​‘Russia not beacon of democracy, but much freer than it was in 90s’

People stand in line to attend a memorial service before the funeral of Russian leading opposition figure Boris Nemtsov, as vehicles drive by, in Moscow, March 3, 2015. (Reuters/Maxim Shemetov)
Regarding basic civil rights, the situation in Russia is much better than it was four or five years ago, political analyst Evgeniy Minchenko told RT. The recent march in memory of politician Boris Nemtsov in the center of Moscow proves that, he added.

Following the murder of Russian opposition figure Boris Nemtsov, President Obama lashed out at Moscow. He said: “I have no idea at this point exactly what happened. What I do know is more broadly the fact that freedom of the press, freedom of assembly, freedom of information, basic civil rights and civil liberties inside of Russia are in much worse shape now than they were four or five, or ten years ago."

RT:Do you believe these accusations are justified?

Evgeniy Minchenko: No, I don’t think so. I would say that if we compare it, for example, with the Ukrainian situation…it is much worse than in Russia with the freedom of speech, with civil rights, and so on. I would say that situation in Russia now is much better [regarding] basic civil rights than it was four or five years ago, as President Obama said.

For example, now we have governor races and we have much more liberal rules to register political parties. So I totally disagree with Mr. Obama. Of course, Russia is not a beacon of liberal democracy but I guess now Russia is a [much freer] country then it was, for example, in the 90’s.

RT:Among the things Obama mentioned is no freedom of assembly. But we saw tens of thousands of people marching in Moscow's streets in memory of Nemtsov, and people were allowed to take part without a fuss at all. So what's the problem here?

EM: I totally agree with you, because they had a permission to make this assembly in the center of Moscow just in one day. I guess that the government and the city of Moscow [are very] welcoming to those people who wanted to remember Boris Nemtsov. So I don’t see any problem.

RT: The mainstream Western media has also been quick to jump to conclusions without supplying any evidence. Why has this case got them so excited?

EM: That is about attitude… because if something happens in Russia of course they have to blame Putin. That is the main point form the mainstream media.

RT: In your opinion, who's benefiting from this murder?

EM: I’m pretty sure that the beneficiaries of this situation are people who want to change the situation in the country, who want to destabilize Russia.

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According to Bruno Drweski, Professor at the National Institute of Languages and Eastern Civilizations, Obama’s comments are not objective.

“I think that these comments coming from the country of the Patriot Act and the country which Snowden had to flee are not very objective anyway,” he told RT.

Also, the moment the US President chose to make political statements – on the eve of Nemtsov’s funeral – was not very appropriate, Professor Drweski suggests.

The anti-Russian campaign will continue “further and further” since the atmosphere between Moscow and the West is reminiscent of that during the Cold War, he said.

“Of course it’s a very complicated issue but I think that Russia is not the main [cause] of the problem with that international situation,” he added.

The statements, views and opinions expressed in this column are solely those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of RT.