Russian parliament rejects minute's silence for slain Kremlin critic Nemtsov

Reuters News
Posted: Feb 26, 2016 9:20 AM

MOSCOW (Reuters) - Russian lawmakers on Friday refused to hold a minute's silence in honor of Boris Nemtsov, a fierce critic of President Vladimir Putin who was gunned down not far from the Kremlin just under a year ago.

The State Duma, the lower house of parliament, delivered the snub as supporters of Nemtsov, a former deputy prime minister, prepared to hold a march in central Moscow on Saturday to recall the opposition leader amid claims that the authorities are trying to erase his memory.

The Kremlin has repeatedly downplayed Nemtsov's significance and described his killing as a "provocation".

Lawmaker Dmitry Gudkov, himself a Putin opponent, proposed the idea of holding the minute's silence on Friday on the eve of the first anniversary of Nemtsov's murder.

In footage of the episode he posted online, Gudkov said only one other of the 450 lawmakers in the lower house stood up in support.

"It's not a question of politics but rather one of ethics and humanity to a man who worked here," Gudkov said.

Vladimir Zhirinovsky, leader of the nationalist Liberal Democratic Party, responded by saying lawmakers only stood up to honor dead public figures when the president had declared an official day of mourning.

"When will this anarchy end?" Zhirinovsky asked lawmakers, referring to Gudkov's suggestion to honor Nemtsov.

"There are very many good people ... who made a far greater contribution to the history of our country than Boris Nemtsov."

Nemtsov, 55, was killed as he walked home with his girlfriend after dinner near the Kremlin.

While revered by some as an unpretentious man of the people, some Russians disliked him, associating him with the 1990s when there were food shortages and hyperinflation wiped out people's savings.

Police have charged a group of Chechen men with carrying out the killing. Nemtsov's family and allies say the authorities have failed to hold the people who ordered the murder to account.

(Reporting by Alexander Winning; Editing by Andrew Osborn)