The speaker of Poland's Senate says Russia won’t let him attend the funeral of an opposition activist murdered Friday. Boris Nemtsov's girlfriend says she did not see the killer who gunned him down right beside her.
Russia denied entry to Polish Senate Speaker Bogdan Borusewicz to attend the funeral of opposition leader Boris Nemtsov, who died instantly Friday after several shots hit him, making him the most prominent opposition figure murdered during President Vladimir Putin's 15-year rule.
"I wanted to pay respect to the slain Boris Nemtsov and to all Russians who think like him," said Borusewicz, a key Solidarity dissident during Poland's years yoked to Soviet-style communism. Polish President Bronislaw Komorowski, also a Solidarity figure, called "difficult to understand and accept" Russia's decision to deny Borusewicz entry.
Lithuanian Foreign Minister Linas Linkevicius will attend Nemtsov's funeral. Former Foreign Minister Sandra Kalniete will represent Latvia. However, a Latvian member of the European Parliament said on Monday that she, too, had been denied entry to Russia for the funeral. Since the end of Soviet communism, the two nations and Poland have joined both the European Union and NATO, and officials from the three countries have vocally criticized Russia's 2014 annexation of Ukraine's Crimean peninsula.
‘Difficult psychological position'
On Monday, the Ukrainian fashion model Anna Duritskaya said she had little recollection of what happened in the moments after the unknown assailant shot Nemtsov dead on Friday night. She told the online news channel Dozhd that she had not noticed anything suspicious as the couple had dined at a restaurant overlooking Red Square just before Nemtsov's murder. It had not occurred to her that someone might follow them as they headed across the river toward Nemtsov's apartment.
"I saw no one," Duritskaya said. "I don't know where he came from. He was behind my back." She added that Russian officials had questioned her without a lawyer and continuously monitored her since the 55-year-old opposition activists death: "They are physically not allowing me to go anywhere without them."
Duritskaya was later allowed to leave Russia, arriving in Ukraine shortly after midnight on Tuesday.
Putin, who considers the killing a "provocation," will not attend the funeral. On Monday, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov warned that the opposition must not try to score points over the murder.
"The attempt to use the heinous killing of Boris Nemtsov for political purposes is a sacrilege," Lavrov said on Monday. "We must prevent any politicization of the human rights agenda, or worse allowing it to be used as a tool for fueling confrontation," he added, addressing the UN Human Rights Council in Geneva.
On Sunday, activists marched in Moscow to protest the murder.
mkg/jil (Reuters, AFP, dpa, AP)