Putin's and Medvedev's Russia welcomes in the New Year with the continued persecution of human and democratic rights activists; Canadian Government remains silent
Ottawa - The persecution of human and democratic rights leader Boris Nemtsov continues in Putin's Russia. On January 2, 2011, Boris Nemtsov, leader of the democratic opposition movement Solidarity and Russia's Deputy Prime Minister from 1997-1998, was sentenced to a maximum 15 days imprisonment as allowed under Article 19.3 of the Administrative Offenses Code ("disobeying police"). He was arrested on December 31, 2010 and held until January 2, 2011 at Tverskoe police station in a 1.5 by 3 meter concrete cell, without a window, bed or mattress.
On January 2, 2011, Moscow Judge Olga Borovkova forced Boris Nemtsov to stand for the duration of the four hour trial, disregarding thirteen defense eye-witnesses as well as refusing to allow a video of Nemtsov's arrest as evidence.
Liberal MP Borys Wrzesnewskyj (Etobicoke Centre), who introduced Nemstov during his participation via Skype at the First Annual Black Ribbon Day Conference at the University of Toronto's Munk Centre in August 2010, commented:
"I was hopeful that the international outcry after Boris Nemtsov's arrest back in September 2010 was enough to persuade Russian authorities to step back from their trampling of democratic rights and their disregard for the right of assembly afforded by the Russian constitution. It appeared that Russian authorities were finally getting the message and were allowing peaceful demonstrations on the 31st of every other month. This latest crackdown certainly reinforces the conclusion that Russia's democratic space is shrinking fast and Putin's Russia is well on its way towards a new dictatorship."
Other opposition leaders and activists sentenced in connection with the rally on Triumfalnaya Square include: Ilya Yashin of Solidarity (5 days), Kirill Manulin of Another Russia (8 days), Konstantin Kosyakin of Left Front (10 days), and Eduard Limonov of Another Russia (15 days). All of them spent New Year's in police detention. In all, 68 people were arrested at the rally in Moscow and more than 50 people at a similar opposition rally in St. Petersburg.
M.P. Wrzesnewskyj is renewing his call on the Canadian Government, and particularly Foreign Affairs Minister Lawrence Cannon, to make clear to Russian authorities that the campaign of arrests and imprisonments of human and democratic rights activists such as Mr. Nemstov must cease. The Russian people's constitutional right to democratic assembly must be guaranteed.
Vladimir Kara-Murza Jr.
Member, Federal Political Council
Russian United Democratic Movement "SOLIDARITY"
Putin's and Medvedev's Russia welcomes in the New Year....