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Russia restricts Nemtsov mourners

Thousands of Russians have bid farewell to murdered Russian opposition politician Boris Nemtsov as his funeral took place in the capital Moscow, reports BBC. They queued patiently to view his coffin before it began its the solemn journey to a city cemetery where he was laid to rest. Several EU politicians and Russia’s opposition leader were barred from attending the funeral. No arrests have been made and no motive has been established for the crime.

Nemtsov’s final resting place is at Troyekurovskoye Cemetery, where murdered journalist Anna Politkovskaya was buried in 2006. A fierce critic of President Vladimir Putin, he was shot dead on a bridge near the Kremlin wall on Friday night. New CCTV footage of the presumed getaway car has been released by a pro-Kremlin Russian news website, LifeNews. The video shows a vehicle making its way along Moscow streets but there is no close-up on the suspects inside.

The crowds will remember a man who was full of energy and life, who burst on to the political scene in the 1990s as a young reformer, who believed passionately in democracy. He was never afraid to speak his mind, to campaign and to criticise. In recent years he had been a fierce opponent of President Putin, exposing corruption and speaking out against the war in Ukraine. Boris Nemtsov was shot dead – with four bullets to the back – just beside the Kremlin. It should be one of the most secure spots in the country but more than three days on, police still do not have a suspect, the murder weapon or even the getaway car.

There is nothing to explain for sure why Nemtsov was killed and why, so demonstratively, right in the heart of Russia’s capital.  So many people came to see Nemtsov’s coffin that when the viewing at the Sakharov human rights centre ended after its scheduled four hours, hundreds of people were still queueing outside. He was our ray of light,” said Valentina Gorbatova, 80. “With his help, I think Russia would have risen up and become a strong country. It is the dream of all progressive people in Russia.”

Latvian MEP Sandra Kalniete told the BBC she had been refused entry into Russia at Sheremetyevo airport in Moscow without a proper explanation. She said she had been made to wait two hours at the airport before being denied entry. Bogdan Borusewicz, the Polish senate speaker who was to have led a delegation from his country, was denied a visa. Russia said he was on a list of Polish officials barred from travelling to Russia, drawn up after the EU imposed sanctions on Russia over its involvement in Ukraine. European Commission spokeswoman Maja Kocijancic was quoted as saying by AFP news agency that Russia’s block on the politicians’ attendance was “arbitrary”.

It was, she said, a “clear breach of basic principles”.  Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny was denied permission to leave jail, where he is serving a 15-day sentence for handing out leaflets publicising a demonstration. He had appealed against a court decision not to release him temporarily but the appeal is only going to be heard on Wednesday, the day after the funeral. President Putin was not be attending the funeral, the Kremlin said, but would send a representative in his place. Former UK Prime Minister John Major, who was in Moscow to pay his respects, called for a full, transparent investigation into Nemtsov’s murder, saying his voice would not be silenced.

It was, he added, his “saddest ever visit to Moscow”.

Shot four times

Tens of thousands of people marched through central Moscow on Sunday to honour Nemtsov, with the opposition claiming some 50,000 people had attended the event. Nemtsov had been due to lead an opposition march that day, but his killing turned the event into a mourning rally. His allies have accused the Kremlin of involvement but President Vladimir Putin condemned the murder as “vile” and “provocative”, vowing to find the killers. Nemtsov, 55, had been walking home from a restaurant with his Ukrainian girlfriend, Anna Durytska, when he was shot four times.

Ms Durytska, a 23-year-old model, was allowed to return to Ukraine after being questioned by Russian police. She told Russian media she had not seen the killer, who struck from behind. Russia’s Federal Protective Service, in charge of presidential security, has said its surveillance cameras did not record the shooting because they were pointed towards the Kremlin.

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