News / Europe

Freed Opposition Politician: Russia is Becoming Belarus-style Dictatorship

Russian opposition leaders Boris Nemtsov, right, and Eduard Limonov, face the media in Moscow after they were released from detention, Jan 17, 2011
Russian opposition leaders Boris Nemtsov, right, and Eduard Limonov, face the media in Moscow after they were released from detention, Jan 17, 2011

Multimedia

Audio
Albina Kovalyova

A freed opposition politician is accusing Russian authorities of using dictatorial tactics against opposition figures. Boris Nemtsov was arrested during a government-sanctioned protest on New Year's Eve and sentenced to two weeks of imprisonment.

Former Deputy Prime Minister and now leader of the liberal, democratic Solidarnost political movement, Nemtsov is free after spending 15 days in prison.  He was among several people arrested at an officially approved demonstration December 31. That event called for freedom of assembly and is held in central Moscow on the 31st of each month.  

After his release, Nemtsov gave a joint press conference in central Moscow with fellow liberal, democratic opposition politicians. In a crammed small room packed with journalists, he said Russian authorities are becoming more like Belarussian dictator Alexander Lukashenko.

He said they hate Lukashenko, since dictators generally do not like each other, but at the same time they are copying his methods.  "I think what we are witnessing now is the Lukanization of Russia," said Nemtsov.

Belarus turned violent after the presidential elections last December. When opposition politicians took to the streets, they were met with violence from the police and arrested. About 25 remain in detention and are facing up to 15 years imprisonment.

Nemtsov said he wants to see Prime Minister Vladimir Putin stripped of his power and an investigation into his activities. He also urged the West to refuse visas to top Russian officials and their relatives to encourage more respect for democracy and civil rights.

Another Solidarnost leader who was arrested in Moscow on New Year's Eve, Ilya Iashin, said such detainment of opposition politicians could have very grave consequences for Russia.

He said the lawlessness of the courts, police and bureaucrats, the harassment of the opposition, the arrests of Kremlin critics and the unchangeable power - all this is a direct route to civil war.

Human-rights organization Amnesty International also condemned the arrests and said those detained were prisoners of conscience”  

Friedirika Behr of Amnesty International in Russia said the trial of Boris Nemtsov was unfair because the judge ignored mitigating evidence. "As much as we know, information other than from police officers who detained Boris Nemtsov and other people, other information that could have shed more light on what actually happened on that evening was not taken into consideration."

Last week, Nemtsov’s defense lawyer filed an appeal with the European Court of Human Rights over his arrest and imprisonment.

But an expert at the Russian based Center for Political Technologies, Olga Mifodeva, believes the arrest was a mistake, not a political scheme.

"I think that this decision was random," said Mifodeva. "It was not planned beforehand. It was just when they began to suppress the demonstration, the authorities decided to arrest him."

Mifodeva thinks the arrests were a political error for the Kremlin, because it made the opposition stronger, not weaker. Nemtsov said he is not afraid of the authorities and will continue to attend demonstrations marking the freedom of assembly.




You May Like

Photogallery Early Nigeria Results Show Buhari Leading; Tampering Concerns Mount

One local group monitoring polls is concerned politicians might use security agencies to 'fiddle with the election collation process' at state level More

UN: 7,300 Civilians Killed in Boko Haram Insurgency

A senior UN humanitarian official tells the United Nations Security Council 1,000 people have been killed this year More

Turkish President Warns Iran About Trying to Dominate Middle East

Warning comes amid growing concerns inside Turkey that it will be sucked into a sectarian conflict with its neighbor More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Film Tells Story of Musicians in Mali Threatened by Jihadistsi
X
Greg Flakus
March 30, 2015 6:48 PM
At this year's annual South by Southwest film and music festival in Austin, Texas, some musicians from Mali were on hand to promote a film about how their lives were upturned by jihadists who destroyed ancient treasures in the city of Timbuktu and prohibited anyone from playing music under threat of death. As VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from Austin, some are afraid to return to their hometowns even though the jihadists are no longer in control there.
Video

Video Film Tells Story of Musicians in Mali Threatened by Jihadists

At this year's annual South by Southwest film and music festival in Austin, Texas, some musicians from Mali were on hand to promote a film about how their lives were upturned by jihadists who destroyed ancient treasures in the city of Timbuktu and prohibited anyone from playing music under threat of death. As VOA’s Greg Flakus reports from Austin, some are afraid to return to their hometowns even though the jihadists are no longer in control there.
Video

Video With Coalition Airstrikes, Iraq Entering 'Last Page' of IS Battle

American warplanes joined Iraq's battle against the so-called 'Islamic State' in northern Iraq late Wednesday, as Iraqi ground troops launched a massive assault on Tikrit. Analysts say the offensive could take the coalition a step further towards Mosul, the largest city held by Islamic State forces. Others say it could also deepen already-dangerous sectarian tensions in the region. VOA's Heather Murdock has more from Cairo.
Video

Video Philippines Wants Tourists Spending Money at New Casinos

Tourism is a multi-billion dollar industry in the Philippines. Close to five million foreign visitors traveled there last year, perhaps lured by the country’s tropical beaches. But Jason Strother reports from Manila that the country hopes to entice more travelers to stay indoors and spend money inside new casinos.
Video

Video Civilian Casualties Push Men to Join Rebels in Ukraine

The continued fighting in eastern Ukraine and the shelling of civilian neighborhoods seem to be pushing more men to join the separatist fighters. Many of the new recruits are residents of Ukraine made bitter by new grievances, as well as old. VOA's Patrick Wells reports.
Video

Video Islamic State Prisoners Talk of Curiosity, God, Regret

Islamic State fighter, a prisoner of Kurdish YPG forces, asked his family asking for forgiveness: "I destroyed myself and I destroyed them along with me." The Syrian youth was one of two detainees who spoke to VOA’s Kurdish Service about the path they chose; their names have been changed and identifying details obscured. VOA's Zana Omer reports.
Video

Video Germanwings Findings Raise Issue of Psychological Testing for Pilots

More is being discovered about the co-pilot in the crash of Germanwings Flight 9525 in the French Alps. Investigators say he was hiding a medical condition, raising questions about the mental qualifications of pilots. VOA's Carolyn Presutti reports.
Video

Video Hi-tech Motorbike Helmet's Goal: Improve Road Safety

In cities with heavily congested traffic, people can get around much faster on a motorcycle than in a car. But a rider who is not sure of his route may have to stop to look at the map or consult a GPS. A Russian start-up company is working to make navigation easier for motorcyclists. Designers at Moscow-based LiveMap are developing a smart helmet with a built-in navigation system, head-mounted display and voice recognition. Zlatica Hoke has more.
Video

Video DOJ: Illinois National Guard Soldier Tried to Join ISIS

U.S. federal law enforcement agents arrested two suburban Chicago men accused of trying to join ISIS overseas, while also plotting attacks in the United States. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports from the Midwest state of Illinois, one of those arrested is a soldier of the Illinois National Guard.
Video

Video New Wheelchair Is Easier to Use, Increases Mobility

Traditional push-rim wheelchairs create a lot of stress for arm, shoulder and neck muscles and joints. A redesigned chair, based on readily available bicycle technology, radically increases mobility while reducing the physical effort. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video Liberia's Almost Last Ebola Patient Grateful but Still Grieving

Beatrice Yardolo was to make history as Liberia’s last Ebola patient. Liberians recently started counting down 42 days, the period that has to go by without a single new infection until the World Health Organization can declare a country Ebola-free. That countdown stopped on March 20 when there was another new case of Ebola, making Yardolo’s story a reminder that Ebola is far from over. Benno Muchler reports from Monrovia.
Video

Video Cambodian Land Grabs Threaten Traditional Communities

Indigenous communities in Cambodia's Ratanakiri province say the government’s economic land concession policy is taking away their land and traditional way of life, making many fear that their identity will soon be lost. Local authorities, though, have denied this is the case. VOA's Say Mony went to investigate and filed this report, narrated by Colin Lovett.
Video

Video Space Program Status Disappoints 'Last Man on the Moon'

One of the films that drew big crowds last week at the annual South by Southwest festival in Austin, Texas, tells the story of the last human being to stand on the moon, U.S. astronaut Eugene Cernan. It has been 42 years since Cernan returned from the moon and he laments that no one else has gone there since. VOA’s Greg Flakus reports.

VOA Blogs

Circumventing Censorship

An Internet Primer for Healthy Web Habits

As surveillance and censoring technologies advance, so, too, do new tools for your computer or mobile device that help protect your privacy and break through Internet censorship.
More