Opposition leader Boris Nemtsov had these harsh words for President Vladimir Putin on the day of his annual address to the Russian Federation Council:
Approaching the President’s Address
December 12, 2012
The fact that Putin is going to give his address on Constitution Day is conspicuous and cynical. This man, who has persistently and purposefully destroyed our constitutional rights with remarkable diligence over the past twelve years, has now decided, in truly hypocritical fashion, to time his speech to coincide with this holiday.
He swore on the constitution – thrice – that he will fight for our rights, but really he was mercilessly trampling over it all that time.
Putin’s oprichniki continue to do this with growing intensity every single day. Take, for instance, December 11. Raids were carried out on the apartments of our fellow oppositionists Taisiya Aleksandrova, Anna Kornilova, and Yury Nabutovsky. The main reason for the raids was their participation in seminars on electoral monitoring. The seminars were in Latvia, which gave the Investigative Committee reason to see the event as preparation for a “colored revolution,” as General Markin, unblinking, announced in a measured tone.
Another thing happened as well – the release of all the figures in the so-called “gambling case,” including all the judges, investigators, and police officers who covered up illegal gambling businesses in outer Moscow, were declared to be “socially close” to the regime and sent home.
But do you remember theft of 5.4 billion rubles from the state budget that Sergei Magnitsky uncovered, instead of throwing the butchers who tortured Sergei in jail, these defenders of thieves and murderers are trying to scare Americans with asset freezes in the Russian Agricultural Bank and their property in the Nizhny Novgorod region.
A tough symmetrical response to the Magnitsky law would have been to immediately remove their children from American universities, immediately close their accounts in American banks, and immediately sell the property they own in the West.
Only then would I believe in the sincerity of the theatrical rage among these Zuganovites, Mironovites and Zhirinovskyists. The end of the day was marked by the absolutely prevocational, one hundred percent anti-constitutional decision by the government not to allow the Freedom March.
The provocateurs from the Kremlin and Moscow City Hall want clashes, they want arrests, they want to frighten free citizens. We have been through this many times before, on the 31st of the month and on other dates. They will not break us. On December 15 at 15:00, I will be on Lubyanka Square. The weather will be bright. Exactly for us free people.