On Saturday 29 February, ALDE member parties in Russia, PARNAS and Yabloko, marched alongside thousands of fellow citizens in Moscow, St. Petersburg and other cities across Russia in remembrance of Russian opposition and liberal leader Boris Nemtsov who was murdered on 27 February 2015 near the Kremlin.
This year, the fifth since his murder, in addition to marching in his memory, citizens marched in protest to President Putin’s proposed amendments to the country’s constitution and called for the release of political prisoners carrying banners that bore the slogans such as Change power, not the Constitution and We are marching – they are sitting behind bars.
“Putin’s best amendment is his resignation,” “The power must be changed, the Constitution must be preserved,” “Freedom for political prisoners!”, “We are marching – they are sitting behind bars!”, “Torture and violence mean powerlessness” – these and other slogans were chanted by the march participants.
PARNAS party leader Mikhail Kasyanov said ahead of the March: “This annual mass rally, which has become a show of democratic opposition, inspires us to continue the struggle. Russia has changed in recent years. We all ceased to be surprised at the total rigging of the elections, the number of political prisoners and battered demonstrators, and the rapid growth of poverty.”
“The authorities began the new year 2020 with hasty changes to the Russian Constitution. Neither Putin nor his entourage can explain to citizens what the meaning and urgency of accepting the amendments proposed by him is. Putin’s indistinct explanations about the need to improve the country's governance system reveal and confirm the intention of the authorities to cement the authoritarian regime,” he continued.
Nikolai Rybakov, the Yabloko party leader, added: “We came here to honour the memory of Boris Nemtsov, a free man who was demonstratively killed right by the Kremlin walls. The customers of this crime are still not punished. The political responsibility for the murder lies with the Russian authorities, the President, under whose windows this happened.” He confirmed Yabloko have also proposed to the Mayor of Moscow to rename the Bolshoy Moskvoretsky Bridge where he was shot dead to the Nemtsov Bridge, and also for streets in the four Russian cities where he lived or worked should have streets named after him.
“The murder of Boris Nemtsov is the largest political crime of recent decades. Shooting an unarmed man in the back by the walls of the Kremlin, which has never been investigated, shooting in the back of a statesman, shooting in the back of a personal opponent of the President is a serious accusation to the entire regime. That is why we are here,” said Grigory Yavlinsky, Chairman of the Yabloko Federal Political Committee. Read Yabloko’s press statement from the march in full here.
Yabloko participated in the actions in memory of Boris Nemtsov in many cities of Russia, with activists and supporters marched, picketed and rallied in Moscow St. Petersburg, Nizhny Novgorod, Arkhangelsk, Barnaul, Veliky Novgorod, Vladivostok, Voronezh, Yekaterinburg, Ivanovo, Irkutsk, Kazan, Kaliningrad, Kemerovo, Kostroma, Krasnodar, Murmansk, Novosibirsk, Omsk, Oryol, Perm, Pskov, Rostov-on-Don, Saratov, Tambov, Tomsk, Ufa, Cheboksary, Chelyabinsk , Elista and Yaroslavl.
Read Deutsche Welle’s article “Boris Nemtsov: The man who dared to criticize Vladimir Putin”