One of Russia’s most prominent opposition figures says he has been barred from leaving the country for six months.
Boris Nemtsov told Russian media from Strasbourg, France, where he was attending a democracy forum, that he will return to Russia despite the travel restriction.
Nemtsov’s claims come as the European Parliament adopted a resolution criticizing the Russian authorities for refusing to register Nemtsov’s new opposition party.
The resolution included an oral amendment on Nemtsov’s travel ban introduced by Estonian member Kristiina Ojuland, who said the body “deplored” the ban and “calls for its immediate lifting.”
However, the court that is reported to have blocked Nemtsov from leaving the country denies issuing any travel ban against him.
“The bailiffs issued no ruling limiting his travel abroad,” a spokesperson for Russia’s Federal Bailiff Service said.
Nemtsov’s lawyer, however, insists the travel ban exists and is linked to Nemtsov’s earlier allegations that natural gas trader Gennady Timchenko used his connections to Prime Minister Vladimir Putin to become one of Russia’s richest men.
The allegations were in a pamphlet Nemtsov co-authored last year titled “Putin. Results. 10 Years.”
Timchenko has denied the allegations and a Moscow judge ordered Nemtsov to publish a correction.
But the “Kommersant” business daily says the one that appeared in its March 26 edition was judged to have had the wrong headline.
Nemtsov told Russian media that he learned of the travel ban from his lawyer on July 6.
Under the alleged ruling, Nemtsov would be banned from leaving the country for six months once he returns to Russia.
Nemtsov, a first deputy prime minister in the 1990s under late President Boris Yeltsin, said he believed the ban was politically motivated.
Nemtsov is a co-leader of the newly formed opposition People’s Freedom Party (PARNAS), which the Justice Ministry refused to register last month.
The decision likely means that the party, whose leadership claimed had 53 regional branches and 46,000 members, will not be able to run in elections to the State Duma in December.
In its resolution, the European Parliament “deplores the decision by the Russian authorities to reject the registration” of PARNAS and calls on the Russian authorities to “guarantee free and fair elections and to withdraw all decisions and rules that oppose this principle.”
The lawmakers also reaffirm their “concerns regarding the difficulties faced by the political parties in registering for elections, which effectively constrain political competition in Russia, reduce the choice available to its electorate and show that there are still real obstacles to political pluralism in the country.”
Addressing the parliament on July 6, EU foreign-policy chief Catherine Ashton cited the nonregistration of the party as another example that “political pluralism still faces obstacles” in Russia.
with agency reports