Thousands march for murdered Kremlin critic Nemtsov

Russia's opposition supporters wave flags and placards during a march in memory of murdered Kremlin critic Boris Nemtsov in central Moscow on Sunday. (AFP)
Updated 25 February 2018
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Thousands march for murdered Kremlin critic Nemtsov

MOSCOW: Several thousand Muscovites marched Sunday in frigid temperatures in memory of Kremlin critic Boris Nemtsov who was gunned down three years ago, a rare sanctioned opposition gathering ahead of next month's presidential vote.
Prominent opposition figures joined ordinary Muscovites for the commemorative march in the center of the Russian capital where temperatures dipped below minus 14 Celsius (7 Fahrenheit).
Some participants carried portraits of Nemtsov and flowers, while others held placards reading "I am not afraid" and "We remember, we won't forgive."
Some chanted "Putin is a thief."
The rare permitted opposition gathering came ahead of March 18 presidential election widely expected to extend President Vladimir Putin's Kremlin rule until 2024.
Nemtsov, one of the most vocal Putin critics, was gunned down shortly before midnight on Feb. 27, 2015, while walking across a bridge a short distance from the Kremlin.
In 2017, a court found a former officer from Chechnya guilty of murdering Nemtsov and sentenced him to 20 years in prison. Four other men were found guilty of involvement in the killing.
But Nemtsov's family and allies insist the authorities have failed to bring the masterminds to justice and point the finger of blame at Chechnya's Moscow-backed strongman Ramzan Kadyrov — and the Kremlin itself.
"The Putin regime killed a man but the masterminds have not been found," one of the participants, Mikhail Kononenko, a 20-year-old student, told AFP.
Opposition politicians said that three years after Nemtsov's murder the atmosphere in the country had gotten worse, with tolerance for dissent shrinking even further.
"Those who ordered the assassination are free, no one has looked for them," said Sergei Mitrokhin, a leader of the liberal party Yabloko.
In the second city of Saint Petersburg several hundred people turned up, some carrying placards that read "Down with the evil empire" and "Putin, where is the mastermind?"
One of the participants, Sergei Arkhipov, slammed the suffocating atmosphere of Putin's Russia.
"There is no air in the country," said the 55-year-old. "Dissent is being punished."
Galina Samoilenko, 38, said she was sad to see that not too many people turned up.
"Perhaps people are afraid. Or maybe they don't care."
Moscow Mayor Sergei Sobyanin has said that a commemorative plaque would be put up on the Moscow block where Nemtsov, a former deputy prime minister in the government of Boris Yeltsin, lived.


Philippine judge rejects Duterte push for critic's arrest

Updated 32 min 15 sec ago
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Philippine judge rejects Duterte push for critic's arrest

  • The decision from a Manila court denied a government petition to take Senator Antonio Trillanes into custody
  • Trillanes has attacked the president's deadly narcotics crackdown, but also accused Duterte of corruption

MANILA: A Philippine judge rejected on Monday an effort by President Rodrigo Duterte to arrest one of his fiercest critics, a decision hailed by opponents as a check on the leader and a victory for the rule of law.
The decision from a Manila court denied a government petition to take Senator Antonio Trillanes into custody on charges for which the lawmaker had already been granted amnesty.
Trillanes has attacked the president's deadly narcotics crackdown, but also accused Duterte of corruption and his son of involvement in drug dealing.
"We wish to thank Judge Andres Soriano who has singlehandedly upheld justice and the rule of law in the country despite extreme pressure coming from the Duterte regime," a beaming Trillanes told reporters.
The order for Trillanes' arrest stems from the president voiding in September an amnesty granted eight years ago to the senator, an ex-navy officer, for his role in two coup attempts in the mid-2000s.
Duterte alleged the lawmaker did not complete the requirements of filing an official application and admitting guilt, but Monday's ruling threw out those arguments.
However, this decision is unlikely to be the final word on this case. The Philippines' top court is weighing the constitutional questions posed by Duterte's amnesty revocation and the government all but pledged to appeal.
"This is not the end. Nobody has to claim total victory here," Justice Secretary Menardo Guevarra told reporters. "This may be subject to review by the higher courts."
Monday's news came as Trillanes was on bail over another military uprising case that was revived by Duterte revoking the lawmaker's amnesty.
His arrest last month in that case made Trillanes the second senator critical of Duterte's drug war to be detained. Leila de Lima has been behind bars since February 2017 on charges she says were concocted to silence her.
Human Rights Watch called Monday's decision a temporary victory for rule of law in the Philippines.
"The Duterte administration's campaign is designed to silence Trillanes," HRW researcher Carlos Conde told AFP.
"We expect it (the government) to continue, even ramp up, this political harassment and intimidation," he added.
Trillanes had faced rebellion and coup d'etat charges for being among military officers who rose up against then president Gloria Arroyo over alleged corruption and mismanagement.
He led scores of junior officers in taking over part of a main district of Manila in 2003 and seized a posh Manila hotel in 2007 along with several armed followers as they demanded Arroyo's resignation.