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Peter Goodspeed, National Post · Monday, Aug. 23, 2010

As Canada marked its first official “Black Ribbon Day” on Monday to recognize millions of victims of Nazism and Communism, Boris Nemtsov, a former Russian deputy prime minister and top opposition leader, warned his country is being pushed toward revolution by a new overwhelming authoritarianism.

A day after he was arrested for parading in Moscow on Russia’s Flag Day without a permit, Mr. Nemtsov attacked Vladimir Putin, the Russian Prime Minister and former president, as a “son of the KGB [who] believes not in freedom but the dictatorship of an authoritarian style of government.”

“Putinism is a disaster for the country,” Mr. Nemtsov, the keynote speaker at a University of Toronto Black Ribbon Day conference, History, Memory and Politics in Eastern and Central Europe, said via a computer link from Moscow.

“Putin is against freedom; he is afraid of the Russian people; he is afraid of a rally; he is afraid of the opposition and he is afraid of elections.

“The Russian people are just so tired of Putin and his team that they will ultimately change the system. But the real danger for the country is that there will be a bloody revolution.”

This is because Russia does not have elections, added Mr. Nemtsov, a potential opposition candidate in 2012.

“It’s just a special order from the Kremlin. All the decisions have already been made in the Kremlin — who will be elected, who will be appointed, what kind of budget will be given a department, what kind of discussion is allowed and what is forbidden.”

Mr. Nemtsov, 51, a two-time deputy premier of Boris Yeltsin and co-founder of the opposition Union of Right Forces party, appears in court in Moscow today. He faces a possible 30 days in jail for staging unauthorized pro-democracy demonstrations in Moscow twice in the last three weeks.

Last fall, Canada’s parliament declared Aug. 23 Black Ribbon Day to remember the millions who suffered and died under Hitler’s Nazis and Stalin’s Soviet regime. The day marks the anniversary of the Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact between the two regimes that led to Second World War and the division of northern and eastern Europe into Nazi and Soviet spheres of influence.


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