Boris Nemtsov's killing in Moscow condemned by Harper, other Western leaders
Outspoken critic of Vladimir Putin gunned down near Kremlin
Western leaders are condemning the assassination of Russian opposition leader Boris Nemtsov and pressing the Kremlin to ensure that the killing is thoroughly investigated.
Prime Minister Stephen Harper said in a statement Friday night that he was "shocked and saddened" to learn Nemtsov had been gunned down in Moscow by assailants who opened fire from a vehicle.
"Mr. Nemtsov will be remembered as a fearless advocate of democracy, human rights and the rule of law in Russia," the statement said.
Harper added that as a prominent opponent of Russia's aggression in Ukraine Nemtsov had been "unafraid to voice essential truths, even in the face of violent intimidation." The statement said those responsible for "this shameful act of violence" must be held to account in "a swift, transparent and independent investigation."
German Chancellor Angela Merkel's spokesman, Steffen Seibert, said Saturday that Merkel was "dismayed" by Nemtsov's killing and is urging Russian President Vladimir Putin to ensure that the assassination is cleared up and the perpetrators brought to justice. She praised Nemtsov's courage in criticizing government policies.
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President Francois Hollande's office said the French leader "denounces the odious assassination" of Nemtsov, whom it described as "a courageous and tireless defender of democracy and a dogged fighter against corruption."
Finland's prime minister, Alexander Stubb, said he hoped "the political leadership and the judicial system in Russia will do their utmost to investigate the murder promptly and transparently."
Here are some of the comments by Western leaders:
- "His life was dedicated to speaking up tirelessly for the Russian people, to demanding their right to democracy and liberty under the rule of law, and to an end to corruption. He did so without fear, and never gave in to intimidation. ... The courage of Nemtsov's life contrasts with the utter cowardice of his murder." — British Prime Minister David Cameron.
- German Chancellor Angela Merkel "appreciates the courage of the former deputy prime minister, who repeatedly expressed publicly his criticism of government policy. She ... calls on President Vladimir Putin to ensure that the murder is cleared up and the perpetrators brought to justice." — Merkel's spokesman, Steffen Seibert.
- French President Francois Hollande "denounces the odious assassination of Boris Nemtsov tonight in Moscow. Boris Nemtsov was a courageous and tireless defender of democracy and a dogged fighter against corruption." — Hollande's office.
- "Nemtsov was a tireless advocate for his country, seeking for his fellow Russian citizens the rights to which all people are entitled. ... We offer our sincere condolences to Boris Efimovich's family, and to the Russian people, who have lost one of the most dedicated and eloquent defenders of their rights." — U.S. President Barack Obama.
- "Mr. Nemtsov will be remembered as a fearless advocate of democracy, human rights and the rule of law in Russia. A leader unafraid to voice essential truths, even in the face of violent intimidation, he was also a prominent opponent of Russia's aggression in Ukraine and the illegal occupation of Crimea." ---- Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper.
- "Murder of Boris Nemtsov shows that Russia slides down to darkness of terror against its own people." — Lithuanian President Dalia Grybauskaite on Twitter.
- "I condemn this act and hope that the political leadership and the judicial system in Russia will do their utmost to investigate the murder promptly and transparently." — Finnish Prime Minister Alexander Stubb.
- "This is a cold-blooded murder of one of those free voices whom the authorities have so actively sought to silence. There is already a list of unsolved political murders and attack in Russia, the investigations of which were under `personal control' of senior Russian politicians. We cannot allow Boris Nemtsov to become just another name on this list." — Amnesty International statement.
- "This political murder is a sign of the climate of hate and intolerance developing in many parts of Europe today, including in the Russian Federation. We must join forces to stop this dangerous development," — Council of Europe Secretary-General Thorbjoern Jagland.
- "This murder put a sudden and cowardly end to the work of a fearless voice. That cannot leave anyone cold. Nemtsov's brutal death is a severe setback for all who courageously advocate an open Russia." — German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier.
- "Condemn the murder of opposition leader Boris Nemtsov in Moscow. Those responsible must be brought to justice. March of protest in Moscow also becomes march of mourning. Opposition and journalists must be protected!" ——Swedish Foreign Minister Margot Wallstrom on Twitter.
- "Boris Nemtsov was a strong advocate for modern, prosperous and democratic Russian Federation, open to the world. ... The EU expects the Russian authorities to conduct a full, rapid and transparent investigation into this assassination, bringing the culprits swiftly to justice." — European Union foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini.
With files from The Canadian Press