Russian opposition leader Boris Nemtsov was shot dead in Moscow on 27 February. A few hours before his death he gave an interview to Echo Moskvy radio station. On the eve of the anti-crisis Vesna rally scheduled for 1 March Nemtsov spoke on the Russian crisis, war against Ukraine, Russian propaganda, Crimea, Nadiya Savchenko and Putin’s lies. He sounded inspired as well as convinced that the upcoming march could start changes for the better in Russia. EMPR brings you excerpts from his interview.
Crimea. Key political demands [of our march] are to immediately end the war with Ukraine. You know that Putin started aggression against Ukraine a year ago. Why am I saying a year ago? Because on 27 February last year, you know, armed people seized the building of the Parliament of the Autonomous Republic of Crimea. Later 47 deputies of the Parliament without a quorum voted in the referendum under the barrel of guns. It was a year ago. A holiday today. […]
By having annexed Crimea Putin violated an endless number of Russia’s international commitments. The key one is the commitment foreseen under the Budapest memorandum. […] Having seized Crimea Putin in fact crossed out our commitments and violated the international system of non-proliferation of nuclear weapons. I would like to emphasize: by seizing Crimea Putin violated the international system of non-proliferation of nuclear weapons. It is a crime.
Russian economic crisis. The second cause [of the crisis –edit.] is Putin’s war against Ukraine and as a consequence sanctions. Sanctions came in following Putin’s aggression and following the war that he started with Ukraine. That’s why ending the war means rolling back the sanctions. […]
We also demand to increase expenditure on education and healthcare, primarily on healthcare. It is one of the most important demands and in our opinion it will be possible to achieve this by cutting military expenditure. The thing is military expenses have grown twice in the last three years in our country. This is the budget of war that we have now. Our military expenses constitute 3 trillion 300 billion. They grew by 33% even in comparison with the last year. While the expenses on education and healthcare are being drastically cut.
On Russian propaganda. In our opinion in order to establish the order in the country and to overcome the crisis important political transformations are needed, including: […] to stop this absolutely miserable, lying propaganda that has twisted and eaten the brain of Russian people. […]
He [Putin – edit.] turned “Ostankino” [TV center – edit.] into recruitment offices. If you happen to ask the relatives of those killed in this war: why did your brother, your husband, your friend go to fight? He saw on TV that Ukraine got seized by fascists. He saw how a boy in Slavyansk was crucified. He saw how these banderites… He saw that and could not tolerate it and went to fight. And it is done cynically. By inciting hatred they are being sent to die as cannon fodder. And it all continues so that these naïve people continue going to Donbass and being killed there. At the same time Putin bears no legal responsibility. He does not pay 3 million to the killed as to the soldiers. He does not. For they are going as volunteers…
On Putin’s lies and Russian soldiers dying. Everything will fall to pieces, do you know why? Everything is built on lies. […] Let’s start with a simple question: why Russian soldiers are dying and you, Mr. Putin, as the Supreme Commander, are renouncing these soldiers and are lying that they are not fighting? And we see their graves, graves of these soldiers. We see these graves in Kostroma. We see them in Pskov, we see them in Nizhny Novgorod where I served as governor. Why are you as the Supreme Commander renouncing your own soldiers? […] Why are you lying that there are no our weapons there? You yourself, Mr. Putin have fixed in the Minsk agreements “Tornado-S’ that you are going to withdraw. Do you know that “Tornado-S” is a modern multiple rocket launcher system found only in service with the Russian army, that they went into service with the Russian army only in 2012? You have signed it in the Minsk agreements. Do you understand that?
Nadiya Savchenko. Firstly I will say about Nadia Savchenko. I surely consider a total catastrophe what is going on now. Lena Masyuk [member of the Council for human rights under the President of the Russian Federation – edit.] visited her and I know many human rights defenders were there. Doctors and experts say she can die in a few days, and I don’t understand the level of Putin’s bloodthirstiness and I would say some sort of sadism. Why do we need all this? To have the streets and squares in the neighbouring country named after Savchenko so that in the end the hatred towards Russia will become self-sufficient after all that? […] She is an MP. She is part of the PACE, she is an absolutely high-status person. The charges brought against her are on the one hand monstrous, and on the other hand have no proofs. And moreover it’s the pretrial measure for Nadia that is being asked to be changed for, say, house arrest. But the regime does not agree even to that. It seems like they want Nadia to die. […] We will have a column [at the rally – edit.] in support of Nadia Savchenko. […] Liberation of political prisoners is one of the demands of the march, an extremely important demand by the way.
On changing Russia’s political course. Putin is a specialist in lies, he’s a pathological liar. […] This march may turn the situation to the side of peace. […] It will be a shock for them. I can tell you […] 100 thousand [people – edit.] in Marjino [scheduled place of the march – edit.] is a shock, total shock. […] This march may sober the Kremlin. And gradually – not with one march – we may achieve changes and the turn of the political course. Gradually.