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Russians Commemorate Slain Kremlin Critic Nemtsov


Moscow March Commemorates Slain Kremlin Critic
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Moscow March Commemorates Slain Kremlin Critic

Thousands of people have taken part in marches in Moscow, St. Petersburg, and other Russian cities to commemorate slain Kremlin critic and former Deputy Prime Minister Boris Nemtsov.

Rallies were held across Russia ahead of the fourth anniversary of Nemtsov's murder, which drew international condemnation and highlighted the dangers faced by Russians who oppose the Kremlin.

In Moscow, protesters carried portraits of Nemtsov and marched behind a banner reading, "We have given Russia away to the crooks, it's time to take it back."

Some participants reportedly chanted slogans against President Vladimir Putin.

Around 10,600 people gathered for the rally on a boulevard some 1.5 kilometers north of the Kremlin, according to White Counter, an independent activist group that tracks turnout at demonstrations.

Some participants in the march in Moscow also made reference to Ukrainians who are being held in Russian custody, including filmmaker Oleh Sentsov.
Some participants in the march in Moscow also made reference to Ukrainians who are being held in Russian custody, including filmmaker Oleh Sentsov.

Opposition politician Ilya Yashin said the march was called not only to remember Nemtsov but to call for democratic reforms.

"We're here to demand democratic reform because we are sick of the dense stuffiness of Putinism. It is impossible to live in a country where they constantly prohibit everything," he told the AP news agency.

Prominent human rights defender Lev Ponomaryov said: “Russia is practically building a totalitarian regime, with torture and murders, and failure to investigate these murders. It is necessary to come out [onto the streets]."

Activist Nataliya Gryaznyevich said that "Nemtsov was a very colorful political figure," and that his death "left an empty hole in politics."

The march ended on Sakharov Avenue at about 3 p.m. local time, Russian news agencies reported.

No incidents were reported and no one was detained, according to a spokeswoman for the city's regional security department.

After the rally, many of the participants went to a bridge just meters from the Kremlin where Nemtsov was gunned down on February 27, 2015.

Russians Pay Tribute To Nemtsov Outside Kremlin
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In St. Petersburg, Russia’s second-largest city, more than 2,000 people gathered on Lenin Square near the Finland train station.

"I come to this event every year," 50-year-old Galina Apraksina told AFP. "Unfortunately nothing is changing in the country, and we cannot be silent."

Smaller commemorative events took place in other cities across Russia, including Voronezh, Yaroslavl, and Arkhangelsk.

In Kirov and Vladivostok, the local authorities refused permission to hold similar events.

А former deputy prime minister under President Boris Yeltsin, Nemtsov was an outspoken critic of President Vladimir Putin, and had sought to build a viable opposition movement.

In July 2017, a Moscow court found five men from Russia's North Caucasus region of Chechnya guilty of Nemtsov's murder and sentenced them to lengthy prison terms.

But Nemtsov’s relatives and associates believe his killing was ordered at a higher level, and say justice will not be served until the person or people behind it are identified and prosecuted.

As with previous high-profile killings -- including the murder of investigative journalist Anna Politkovskaya in 2006 -- government critics have voiced suspicion that the culprits will never face justice because an honest investigation could lead to figures who are close to Moscow-backed Chechen leader Ramzan Kadyrov or to Putin's inner circle.

With reporting by Reuters, AFP, TASS, and Interfax
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