Russia much like Tunisia: Russian opposition leader

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Russian opposition leader Boris Nemtsov said Sunday Russians could see Tunisia as an example to follow after years of iron-fisted rule by strongman Vladimir Putin.

"Tunisia's example is remarkable. Tunisia is far away, Muslim, African but it is a country that has much in common with Russia," Nemtsov, a former deputy prime minister, told Moscow Echo radio a day after he was released from prison.

"As far as the outlook for Putin's movement is concerned, I think the Tunisians' example is instructive," the leader of the Solidarnost movement added.

Nemtsov predicted that the months before upcoming presidential elections would see "massive repression" by Russia's "wild and corrupt" leadership, embodied by Vladimir Putin, the former president and incumbent prime minister.

He added, however, that his Solidarnost movement would act within the constitutional framework and name a presidential candidate for the 2012 poll.

Russia's foreign ministry has not commented on the Tunisian unrest and the flight of ousted president Zine El Abidine Ben Ali to Saudi Arabia but expressed concern on Saturday in a statement and called for "democratic" dialogue within Tunisia's constitution.

National television network NTV on Sunday called Ben Ali's ouster a "coup".

Russia released Nemtsov and dissident writer Eduard Limonov, leader of a left-wing nationalist opposition movement, after a two-week detention following their arrests during a sanctioned New Year's Eve rally for the respect of Article 31 in the constitution which guarantees freedom of assembly.

They were later convicted of disobeying police orders.

Two other opponents Konstantin Kosyakin and Iliya Yashin were also jailed from five to 10 days for similar reasons.

A lawyer for Nemtsov filed an appeal with the European Court of Human Rights over his arrest and imprisonment by the Moscow police.

© 2011 AFP

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