MEPs call for international investigation of Nemtsov’s murder

Boris Nemtsov [Wikimedia]

The murder of Russian opposition politician Boris Nemtsov calls for an independent international investigation, MEPs voted in a resolution today (12 March). This is the “most significant political murder in recent Russian history”, they added, warning that Kremlin propaganda is turning Russia into a “state of repression, hate speech and fear”.

MEPs called for an independent international investigation into the murder of Nemtsov, who was gathering evidence about Russian involvement in the war in Ukraine, and was killed just two days before he was to lead a demonstration against it.

>> Read: Russian opposition leader Boris Nemtsov shot dead near the Kremlin

>> Read: Thousands in Moscow chant ‘Russia without Putin’

Lawmakers paid tribute to Nemtsov as someone who “committed his life to a more democratic, prosperous, open Russia, and to strong partner relationships between Russia and its neighbours”.

MEPs also deplored the fact that some MEPs and diplomats who wished to attend Nemtsov’s funeral were refused entry to Russia.

Russia is moving in a direction “contrary to a functioning democracy”, MEPs said, urging the Kremlin to stop “all pressure, repressive acts and intimidation” against opposition leaders, civil society and media and to release political prisoners, such as Ukrainian MP Nadia Savchenko and Estonian police officer Eston Kohver.

MEPs also condemned Russia’s failure to cooperate with the international investigation into the shooting down of Malaysia Airlines flight MH 17 over Ukraine in July 2014.

Delegates expressed Parliament’s support for democratic forces in Russia and urged the EU Council to commit the 28 EU countries to a strong, unified message on human rights and on the need to end the crackdown on freedom of expression and assembly there. A stronger programme and more funding is also needed to support Russian civil society in Russia and occupied Crimea, they added.

"Killing Boris Nemtsov is a "hybrid message" of Putin's system to the liberal, democratic world," said Sandra Kalniete, EPP Group's Vice-Chairwoman for Neighbourhood Policy and Euronest, making a reference to the concept of hybrid war – a mix of conventional and unconventional tools used in order to conduct a conflict.

At the same time, she expressed her wish for a democratic transition in Russia.

"For the European Union it is important to define a new policy towards Russia, based on this new reality. Of course, we need 'strategic patience'. I believe that sooner or later every dictatorship will destroy itself," she said.

"At the moment an erosion of the economy in Russia is in process. The agony of the regime can continue for years. Sometimes things get worse before they get better," Kalniete concluded.

ALDE MEP Hans van Baalen (VVD, The Netherlands), ALDE Group spokesman on Russia and Ukraine, said the EU should keep sanctions against the Putin’s regime, but hold hands with people of Russia:
“Boris Nemtsov was our man, his party belongs to the ALDE Party. He wanted to make Russia a better place. As Mikhail Kasyanov said yesterday, here in Strasbourg, we should not look into the mirror and say we made mistakes such as NATO enlargement. By contrast, NATO brought shelter to all the countries which joined the Alliance. It is up to Putin to make sure those who killed Nemtsov will be brought to justice. Sanctions against the regime should stay, but we must reach out our hands to the people of Russia.”

ALDE Vice-President, Petras Auštrevi?ius (Liberal's Movement of Lithuania), stated that the EU must show unity and determination when dealing with Kremlin:
"The atmosphere of hatred towards the West and hostility to open-minded people in Russia made this happen. It is a logical outcome of the policy line pursued for the last 15 years. The name of this is Putinism. Is this going to stop? It depends on us, the whole democratic world. Today, it depends first and foremost on our reaction to the war Putin waged against Ukraine. I really hope we will keep a united and strong position regarding Putin’s regime.”

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