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.


Malaysia says it won’t host any more events involving Israel

Updated 16 January 2019
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Malaysia says it won’t host any more events involving Israel

  • Malaysia is a strong supporter of the Palestinian plight
  • The government said Israeli swimmers cannot join the competition in July that serves as a qualifying event for the 2020 Tokyo Paralympics

PUTRAJAYA, Malaysia: Malaysia’s foreign minister said Wednesday that the government will not budge over a ban on Israeli athletes in a para swimming competition and has decided that the country will not host any events in the future involving Israel.
Malaysia, a strong supporter of the Palestinian cause, is among the predominantly Muslim countries that do not have diplomatic relations with Israel. The government has said Israeli swimmers cannot join the competition in eastern Sarawak state in July, which serves as a qualifying event for the 2020 Tokyo Paralympics.
Foreign Minister Saifuddin Abdullah said the Cabinet affirmed last week that no Israeli delegates can enter Malaysia for sporting or other events in solidarity with the Palestinians.
“The Cabinet has also decided that Malaysia will not host any more events involving Israel or its representatives. This is to me, a decision to reflect the government’s firm stance over the Israeli issue,” Saifuddin said after meeting a coalition of Muslim groups. The groups submitted a memorandum urging the government to stick to the ban and not to repeat mistakes in the past of allowing Israel delegates into the country.
Saifuddin said the Palestinian cause was not just a religious issue but also a human right violation.
“It’s about fighting on behalf of the oppressed,” he said.
Israel’s Paralympic Committee did not immediately reply to an email requesting comment on Malaysia’s move.
Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad has said the International Paralympic Committee can withdraw Malaysia’s right to host the July 29-Aug 4 championship involving athletes from some 70 countries if they wish to do so. The committee has said it was disappointed with Mahathir’s comments but hopes to find a solution to the issue.
This isn’t the first time Malaysia has stopped Israeli athletes from competing in a sports event. In 2015, two Israeli windsurfers had to withdraw from a competition on the resort island of Langkawi after they were refused visas to enter. The following year, Malaysia decided not to host a 2017 conference of the world football governing body FIFA because an Israeli delegation was scheduled to participate.
But earlier this year, the government allowed a high-level Israeli delegation to attend a UN conference in Kuala Lumpur, sparking widespread anger among Muslim groups.
Some 60 percent of Malaysia’s 32 million people are ethnic Malay Muslims. Many have taken to the streets in the past to support the Palestinian cause.