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Nemtsov urged end to Ukraine conflict hours before killing

February 28, 2015

Three hours before his death, Boris Nemtsov gave an interview to a Moscow radio station, condemning President Vladimir Putin’s actions in Ukraine and calling for an end to the conflict.

In a 45-minute live interview on the popular Echo of Moscow station, Nemtsov urged listeners to take part in an opposition rally in Moscow on Sunday.

The organisers are now planning a march to mourn his killing instead.

Nemtsov had said the rally would demand “an immediate end to the war in Ukraine,” backing the Western view, denied by the Kremlin, that Russian troops are engaged in the fighting between Ukrainian forces and pro-Moscow separatists.

The opposition politician stressed that Russia’s current economic crisis was the consequence of what he called Putin’s “crazy policy” over Ukraine.”

“A key reason for the crisis is the aggression (in Ukraine), the sanctions and the isolation that followed it, Russia’s being cut off from modern technology,” he added.

“This is a terrible blow to the country. There are no investments. 150 billion dollars has been lost in capital flight, and this is all a consequence of this madness called aggression against Ukraine,” he said.

Nemtsov remonstrated with a journalist who suggested that Crimea’s annexation from Ukraine was justifiable since most of the Russian-speaking majority in Crimea were in favour.

“Most people living in Crimea wanted to be with Russia — that’s the simple truth. But that’s not the question. The question is that you have to act not based on someone’s desire but according to the law, and observe international obligations.”

Nemtsov said he wanted to see corrupt Russian politicians be prosecuted, to halve military spending and to boost the education budget.

But he acknowledged that the deeply divided opposition was struggling to make its views heard in Russia.

He called for the lifting of an unspoken ban on opposition voices on the national television channels that largely form public opinion.

“Of course we need political reforms in the country,” he insisted.

“When power is concentrated in the hands of one person and this person rules eternally — then everything ends in total disaster.”

Dispatches from AFP concerning freedom of information, censorship and news coverage in regions where independent media is under threat.