Moscow funeral for slain Kremlin critic Nemtsov

Moscow funeral for slain Kremlin critic Nemtsov

MOSCOW - Mourners for slain Russian opposition leader Boris Nemtsov prepared to gather for his funeral in Moscow Tuesday, as Polish and Latvian officials said they had been barred from entering Russia on the eve of the ceremony in retaliation for EU sanctions over Ukraine.

The funeral for Nemtsov, a 55-year-old former deputy prime minister, longtime Vladimir Putin critic and anti-corruption crusader who was shot dead in central Moscow four days ago, will be held in the Russian capital's Troekurovskoye cemetery.

His body was to lie in state starting at 0700 GMT at the Andrei Sakharov rights centre, the RIA-Novosti news agency quoted Nemtsov colleague Konstantin Merzlikin as saying.

Senior officials from Poland and Latvia who sought to attend the funeral said Monday they had been denied entry into Russia.

Polish Senate speaker Bogdan Borusewicz was refused entry by Moscow in reprisal for EU sanctions against Russia's upper house of parliament speaker Valentina Matviyenko, the Polish foreign ministry said.

Latvian MEP Sandra Kalniete told AFP she had also been refused entry into Russia at Moscow's Sheremetyevo airport, but was not given a reasonable explanation for the ban.

"Since I have always taken a clear and explicit language on Russia's role in Ukraine, I had suspicions that it could happen," she said.

Polish Deputy Foreign Minister Konrad Pawlik will attend the funeral, according to Polish media, while Lithuanian Foreign Minister Linas Linkevicius will also be present, his spokesman said.

Nemtsov was gunned down shortly before midnight Friday while walking across a bridge just a short distance from the Kremlin with his Ukrainian model girlfriend Ganna Duritska.

Putin, whose rule has seen the steady suppression of independent media, non-Kremlin controlled political parties and opposition-minded business figures, called the murder a "contract killing" and said it was a provocation.

Soon after the killing, Putin promised an all-out effort to catch the perpetrators.

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