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St. Petersburg Refuses Permission For Nemtsov Memorial Rally

People hold portraits of late opposition leader Boris Nemtsov and placards reading "Who ordered?" during the memorial march in St. Petersburg in February 2017.

Authorities in St. Petersburg have denied permission to hold a march in the city center on February 24 to mark the fourth anniversary of the killing of opposition political leader Boris Nemtsov.

The Petersburg Protests movement posted on social media on February 16 that the city authorities had rejected all the proposed routes for the march.

St. Petersburg Legislative Assembly deputy Boris Vishnevsky posted on Facebook that the authorities instead proposed holding a rally in Polustrovo Park and a march in that area, some 5 kilometers from the city center.

"It's a mockery," Vishnevsky wrote. "We will sue them."

It is the first time the authorities in Russia's northern capital have refused permission for a march honoring Nemtsov, who was shot dead in Moscow on February 27, 2015.

In previous years, the event was held at Lenin Square next to the Finland Railway Station, and participants then marched to the Solovetsky Kamen memorial to victims of political repression, where they placed Nemtsov's portrait.

"The refusal to allow the Boris Nemtsov commemorative march and the offer of an alternative that does not suit the goals of the traditional event are perplexing," St. Petersburg human rights ombudsman Aleksandr Shishlov told Interfax.

Authorities in the cities of Kirov and Vladivostok have also already refused permission to hold similar events.

In Moscow, the mayor's office on February 14 gave permission for a march, although discussions concerning the exact route are still under way.

The Moscow event will take place on February 24 and authorities have authorized the participation of up to 30,000 people.

In June 2017, a court sentenced a former deputy commander of the Chechen Sever Battalion, Zaur Dadayev, to 20 years in prison for killing Nemtsov. Four other Chechens were given terms between 11 and 19 years in prison after being convicted of involvement.

Relatives and colleagues of Nemtsov consider the case still unsolved because the authorities have failed to determine who ordered the killing. They suspect it could be someone in the inner circle of President Vladimir Putin or Chechen leader Ramzan Kadyrov.

With reporting by Interfax