A Call to Western Action on Nemtsov

Vladimir Kara-Murza, writing on World Affairs:

Russian officials have a selective approach to holidays. When it came to arrestingopposition leader Boris Nemtsov on New Year’s Eve and sentencing him on January 2 (a Sunday), no effort was spared. Yet when it came to hearing his appeal, Tverskoy Court remembered that January 1 to 10 is a period of vacation. By law, an appeal against administrative arrest must be heard within 24 hours. The former deputy prime minister has been in detention since December 31, but his appeal has still not been reviewed due to “holidays.” On January 8, another attempt to vindicate Nemtsov’s legal rights ended with Mr. Nemtsov’s lawyer, Timur Onikov, being escorted out by bailiffs. On January 11, the appeal was admitted as a priority case — by the European Court of Human Rights in Strasbourg.

On January 12, Tverskoy Court finally heard Boris Nemtsov’s appeal against his arrest and imprisonment. The appeal was denied by federal judge Yelena Stashina — the same judge who in November 2009, four days before the death in prison of anti-corruption lawyer Sergei Magnitsky, rejected his complaint against deprivation of medical treatment. Judge Stashina is included in the proposed blacklist of Russian officials forbidden to enter the US. The decision to deny Mr. Nemtsov’s appeal was reported by the government news agency RIA Novosti two hours before it was announced. The opposition leader will remain in prison until the completion of his sentence on January 15.

It is indicative that the only elected officials who came to the defense of Russian citizens’ constitutional rights (in all, more than 120 people were detained on December 31 at peaceful anti-government rallies) were foreigners. US Senators John McCain and Joseph Liebermancalled the arrests “shameful and outrageous.” Senator Mark Begich warned of a “chill” in US-Russian relations, while Senator Roger Wicker accused the Kremlin of disrespecting “universal values.” The US State Department declared that “these kinds of arrests … are contrary not only to commitments that Russia has made, but also to Russia’s long-term interest.” Canadian MP Borys Wrzesnewskyj concluded that “Putin’s Russia is well on its way towards a new dictatorship.” Swedish Foreign Minister Carl Bildt called the arrests “worrying.” “It is time that the EU … shows solidarity towards the Russian democratic opposition,” urged Heidi Hautala, chair of the European Parliament’s human rights subcommittee.

Notwithstanding the Kremlin’s screams of “interference in internal affairs,” such criticism is not just a right but a duty for Western governments. Statutes of the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe, which comprises 56 European, Central Asian, and North American states (including the US and Russia), affirm that “issues relating to human rights, fundamental freedoms, democracy, and the rule of law are of international concern, as respect for these rights and freedoms constitutes one of the foundations of the international order” and that “commitments undertaken in the field of the human dimension … are matters of direct and legitimate concern to all participating States and do not belong exclusively to the internal affairs of the State concerned.”

Right words must now be followed by right actions. Shortly before his arrest, Boris Nemtsovurged Western leaders to impose travel restrictions on select Russian officials as the most effective way of changing the regime’s repressive behavior. This week, the European Parliament made the first move toward sanctions against officials involved in the second trial of Mikhail Khodorkovsky and Platon Lebedev. “The time for quiet diplomacy with Russia has passed, it is time for action,” explained EU legislator Traian Ungureanu. It is to be hoped that similar news will soon follow from Washington.

3 responses to “A Call to Western Action on Nemtsov

  1. “Shortly before his arrest, Boris Nemtsov urged Western leaders to impose travel restrictions on select Russian officials ”

    Nemtsov should move to Angela Merkel’s uber liberal slav hating Germany where he can harass the natives all day and night and legally get away with it.

  2. Putin is definitely ‘putin(g)’ into effect that dictum “power corrupts and absolute power corrupts absolutely”.

    And as absolute soviet emperor of the Russian sheeple he will dictate and rule as he pleases. Wiping out any imagined or real opposition to him. But you have seen nothing as yet, just wait until he becomes – President for life, then and only then will you see the real new “General Secretary” of the new Mother of all Russia’s.

    Furthermore, and as in all forms of warfare, the first casualty will be truth, which currently is being achieved by the criminally severe beating (causing in many cases cripples and/or death), and slaughter of all honest reporters at all costs and by any means!

    What is hard to comprehend is the blindness, nay stupidity, of people like Italy’s Berlusconi (mafia), Germany’s Merkel (Stasi), France’s Sarkozy and United States Obama to trust a person like V. Putin.

  3. Manfred Steifschwanz

    >> What is hard to comprehend is the blindness, nay stupidity, of people like Italy’s Berlusconi (mafia), Germany’s Merkel (Stasi), France’s Sarkozy and United States Obama to trust a person like V. Putin. >>

    Cher petit Bohdan-Sans-Cerveau: Tu dois comprendre que ces gens s’en foutent ENTIÈREMENT de ce site-ci. Sache aussi que M. Poutine est en fait MOINS corrompu que les autres. Sans aucun doute Poutine, lui, possède beaucoup plus de pouvoir que les sots occidentaux qui, de leur côté, ne sont que des chiens au service du grand capital comme les médias. Voilà.

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