Nemtsov: Left-wing, Liberal, Nationalist Opposition Wings in Agreement on Political Demands

Boris Nemtsov file photo

MOSCOW. Sept 15 (Interfax) – Boris Nemtsov, one of Russia’s opposition leaders, said on Saturday that the liberal, left-wing and nationalist wings of the opposition had reached agreement on political demands such as the ouster of President Vladimir Putin and new presidential and parliamentary elections.

“New elections for the Duma, a new presidential election under public control,” Nemtsov, who is a co-head of the Solidarnost (Solidarity) coalition and a former deputy prime minister, told a rally in Moscow that was part of the “March of Millions” nationwide protests.

“If we don’t demand the dismissal of Putin, if we don’t demand a new presidential election, we won’t be able to change anything in the country,” he said.

“There is one more piece of good news – nobody believed that the left-wingers, liberals and nationalists would be able to be together and reach agreement on political demands, with agreement on social and economic demands being especially difficult to reach. I want to tell you that we have reached agreement,” Nemtsov said.

“Our political demands are utterly clear – immediate release of political prisoners and new, honest parliamentary and presidential elections under public control,” he said. “The president must have limits put on his powers, the constitution must be changed, parliament must have a more powerful role.”

Nemtsov said these demands were set out in the resolution of Saturday’s March of Millions.

He also said the opposition’s demands included freezing rents and utilities charges because their increases mean “thievery on the part of brazen, dastardly monopolies.”

Alexei Navalny, a high-profile activist and author of the Ros-Pil anti-corruption project, was another speaker at the rally.

“We must go to rallies in order to achieve freedom for ourselves and for our children, in order to maintain our human dignity. We will go (to rallies) the way one goes to work. This must be part of our life,” he said.

“I can see a political force here that can win,” Navalny said.

“Doing away with corruption means money for each of us, it means wealth for the country, equality, it means equal opportunities for all children and not only for the children of the Kremlin elite,” he said.

In talking to reporters afterward, Navalny said: “As for those who say that the opposition movement is getting weaker, I advise them to look at this square today. The movement is not getting weaker, and more likely the reverse is true – it is mounting.”

He confirmed that the demand for honest elections brought different political groups together.

“The political spectrum is very broad today. You can see here Sergei Udaltsov with his socialist views and Boris Nemtsov with his ultraliberal views. The demand for honest elections even brings together today political forces that are as different as that,” he said.

He answered in the negative when asked whether he feared arrest. “The case of May 6 (arrests of participants in that day’s March of Millions in Moscow) makes clear that anyone, including myself, may be arrested. But if I were afraid, I wouldn’t have come here,” Navalny said.