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

Multimedia Social Media Documenting, Not Driving, Hong Kong Protests

Unlike in Arab Spring uprisings, pro-democracy protesters in Hong Kong aren't relying on Twitter and Facebook to organize, but social media still plays a role More

Analysis: Occupy Central Not Exactly Hong Kong’s Tiananmen

VOA's former Hong Kong, Beijing correspondent compares and contrasts 1989 Tiananmen Square protest with what is now happening in Hong Kong More

Bambari Hospital a Lone Place of Help in Violence-Plagued CAR

Only establishment still functioning in CAR's second city is main hospital 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.
The Legacy of Jimmy Carter: The Preacher from Plainsi
X
October 01, 2014 10:45 AM
It is common in the United States to see tourists flock to sites associated with America's presidents. Some are privately owned and others are run by the National Park Service or the National Archives -- but most have helped draw business and people into the towns and cities where they are located. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, there is one particular presidential hometown that is unique in what it has to offer those who make the trip.
Video

Video The Legacy of Jimmy Carter: The Preacher from Plains

It is common in the United States to see tourists flock to sites associated with America's presidents. Some are privately owned and others are run by the National Park Service or the National Archives -- but most have helped draw business and people into the towns and cities where they are located. As VOA’s Kane Farabaugh reports, there is one particular presidential hometown that is unique in what it has to offer those who make the trip.
Video

Video Hong Kong Protests Draw New Supporters on National Holiday

On the 65th anniversary of the founding of Communist China, Hong Kong protesters are hoping to stage the largest pro-democracy demonstration since the 1989 Tiananmen protests. VOA's Brian Padden visited one of the protest sites mid-day, when the atmosphere was calm and where the supporters were enthusiastic about joining what they are calling the umbrella revolution.
Video

Video India's PM Continues First US Visit

India's prime minister is on his first visit to Washington, to strengthen political and economic ties between the world's oldest and the world biggest democracies. He came to the U.S. capital from New York, the first stop on his five-day visit to the country that denied him an entry visa in the past. From Washington, Zlatica Hoke reports Modi seemed most focused on attracting foreign investment and trade to increase job opportunities for his people.
Video

Video Malaysia Struggles to Stop People Joining Jihad

Malaysian authorities say militant groups like the so-called "Islamic State" have used social media to entice at least three dozen Malaysian Muslims to fight in what they call "jihad" in Syria and Iraq. As Mahi Ramkrishnan reports from Kuala Lumpur, counterterrorism police are deeply worried about what could happen when these militants return home.
Video

Video Could US Have Done More to Stop Rise of Islamic State?

President Obama says airstrikes against Islamic State militants in Syria will likely continue for some time because, in his words, "there is a cancer that has grown for too long." So what if President Obama had acted sooner in Syria to arm more-moderate opponents of both the Islamic State and the Syrian government? VOA State Department Correspondent Scott Stearns reports from the United Nations.
Video

Video Treasure Hunters Seek 'Hidden Treasure' in Central Kenya

Could a cave in a small village in central Kenya be the site of buried treasure? A rumor of riches, left behind by colonialists, has some residents dreaming of wealth, while others see it as a dangerous hoax. VOA's Gabe Joselow has the story.
Video

Video Ebola Patients Find No Treatment at Sierra Leone Holding Center

At a holding facility in Makeni, central Sierra Leone, dozens of sick people sit on the floor in an empty university building. They wait in filthy conditions. It's a 16-hour drive by ambulance to Kailahun Ebola treatment center. Adam Bailes was there and reports on what he says are some of the worst situations he has seen since the beginning of this Ebola outbreak. And he says it appears case numbers may already be far worse than authorities acknowledge.
Video

Video Identifying Bodies Found in Texas Border Region

Thousands of immigrants have died after crossing the border from Mexico into remote areas of the southwestern United States in recent years. Local officials in south Texas alone have found hundreds of unidentified bodies and buried them in mass graves in local cemeteries. Now an anthropologist and her students at Baylor University have been exhuming bodies and looking for clues to identify them. VOA’s Greg Flakus has more from Waco, Texas.
Colonel Steve ‘Spiros’ Pisanos left Greece and came to the U.S. to learn to fly. He flew fighters for the Allies in World War II, narrowly escaping death multiple times.Colonel Steve ‘Spiros’ Pisanos left Greece and came to the U.S. to learn to fly. He flew fighters for the Allies in World War II, narrowly escaping death multiple times.

AppleAndroid