The Coordinator of German-Russian Intersocietal Cooperation, Dr Andreas Schockenhoff, today (4 January) issued the following statement on the sentence of several days’ imprisonment imposed on Boris Nemtsov and other Russian opposition politicians following an approved demonstration in Moscow:
“I am worried about the increasing number of politically-motivated sentences in Russia. These most recent cases are not simply internal Russian affairs. Freedom of assembly and freedom of opinion are core universal human rights. Anyone wanting to enter into a modernizing partnership with the EU also has to guarantee the rule of law. The demonstration on Moscow’s Triumph Square on 31 December had been officially approved. So the arrests and sentences run counter to Russia’s own rule of law principles.”
On 31 December rallies took place in Moscow and other cities in defence of Article 31 of the Russian constitution (freedom of assembly). The demonstration had been given the official go-ahead. Despite this, several dozen protesters, including Boris Nemtsov, were arrested.
Nemtsov, who was Russia’s Deputy Prime Minister under Boris Yeltsin, is one of the leading figures in the opposition Solidarity movement. On 2 January he was sentenced to fifteen days’ imprisonment for having allegedly resisted arrest. Numerous people who wanted to protest against the sentence were also arrested yesterday and today.