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Russian politician Nemtsov on Khodorkovskiy, united democratic opposition

Yekaterinburg, 23 May: Boris Nemtsov, who has left all the posts in the SPS (Union of Right Forces), has spoken out in support of Russian rights activists, who have called on the leadership of the country to pardon 15 citizens, among whom is the former head of the Yukos oil company, Mikhail Khodorkovskiy.

"First of all Khodorkovskiy has already served five years. He was detained on 25 October 2003 - I will not forget this day. Even from the point of the Criminal Proceedings Code he could come under amnesty, conditional early release and so on," Nemtsov announced at a news conference in Yekaterinburg on Friday (23 May).

"The complaints (about violations of the detention regime - Interfax) which are being made against him (Khdorkovskiy - Interfax) - that he did not put his hands behind his back on time or that he drank tea in an incorrect place - are absolutely comical," Nemtsov added.

Along with this, he expressed the doubt that it was possible to grant amnesty to Khodorkovskiy, recalling that at present another criminal case against him is being investigated.

At the beginning of this week Russian rights activists called on the leadership of the country to pardon 15 citizens, among whom is Mikhail Khodorkovskiy and scientists sentenced to various prison terms for espionage.

United democratic opposition

At the news conference Boris Nemtsov also spoke about the future of the democratic movement.

In particular, he noted that the united democratic opposition intends to hold founding conferences in a number of regions of the country by the end of the year. "We would not like for it to be only Moscow or St Petersburg organization. This would not be right. Therefore we will spend the time before the end of the year on holding conferences of the united democratic opposition in the regions of the country, including in the Urals," Nemtsov said.

He recalled that at the beginning of April a conference of the united democratic opposition was held in St Petersburg. Before the end of the year it is planned to hold a congress of democratic opposition.

"It seems very important for me that representatives of Yabloko and the Union of Right Forces are taking part in this united democratic opposition. The organizing committee includes Maksim Reznik, Garri Kasparov, Nikita Belykh and human rights activists. I hope that the RNDS (the Russian People's Democratic Union of Mikhail Kasyanov) and youth movements would join," the politician noted.

He said that one of the problems in the country was "the fragmentation of democrats"

"The authorities could behave more or less respectably if they feel that they may be offered a rebuff. There was no rebuff because everyone went in their own direction," Nemtsov explained.

At the same time he said that the united democratic opposition will not have a single leader but there will be a collective leadership.

"Having analysed the results of the fiasco with the unification of democrats, I came to the conclusion that the main reason (for the fiasco with the unification of democrats - Interfax) - was ambitions, the desire of one charismatic person or another to head the movement," the politician noted.