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Nemtsov Jailing Draws Criticism

Boris Nemtsov (left) speaks with a police officer wearing riot gear on Moscow's Triumfalnaya Square on December 31.
Russian opposition and other leading figures have condemned the arrest and jailing of prominent Kremlin critic Boris Nemtsov.

Nemtsov, a former deputy prime minister, was sentenced to 15 days in jail on January 2 for disobeying police orders after being arrested at a New Year's Eve protest rally in Moscow.

Three other opposition figures -- Eduard Limonov, Konstantin Kosyakin, and Ilya Yashin -- were also given sentences of between five and 15 days in jail in connection with the same rally.

Anatoly Chubais, who like Nemtsov served as deputy prime minister under former President Boris Yeltsin, said he did not believe the grounds for Nemtsov's arrest and said the court had refused to allow evidence that refuted the charge against him.

Sergei Mitrokhin, the head of Russia's liberal Yabloko Party, called the arrests politically motivated and urged the opposition politicians' immediate release.

Leading human rights campaigner Lev Ponomarev said the arrests were aimed at putting pressure on Russian civil society.

The protest was the latest in a series of rallies held to assert the right to freedom of assembly.

Moscow has come under intense international scrutiny -- including by the European Union, Germany, and the United States -- over a conviction and sentencing last month that extended by six years the prison terms for former Yukos CEO and Kremlin critic Mikhail Khodorkovsky and a business partner, Platon Lebedev.

compiled from agency reports