Thousands march to honour slain Russian opposition leader

REUTERS  Maxim Shemetov

REUTERS Maxim Shemetov

Around 6,000 people took part in an authorised march commemorating slain Russian opposition figure Boris Nemtsov in central Moscow on Sunday, the Main Directorate of the Russian Interior Ministry in Moscow said.

Rallies were held across Russia ahead of the fourth anniversary of Nemtsov's murder, which drew global condemnation and highlighted the dangers faced by Russians who oppose the Kremlin.

Many carried Russian flags, portraits of Nemtsov and anti-Kremlin banners. Some chanted slogans against President Vladimir Putin.

Pro-opposition monitors estimated the turnout at 10,000.

Some 80 percent of Russians live in cities, but they have been increasingly moving to the country's bigger cities while smaller ones are emptying out, Bloomberg reported. "It is necessary to come out [onto the streets]".

Ordinary Muscovites and prominent opposition figures, including politician Alexei Navalny, marched through the centre of the city.

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The march passed along Strastnoy, Petrovsky, Rozhdestvensky, Sretensky boulevards to Academician Sakharov Avenue.

In Saint Petersburg, around 800 people gathered to mark the anniversary outside the Finland train station.

Nemtsov was shot on February 27, 2015 as he walked along a bridge near the Kremlin. "Unfortunately nothing is changing in the country, and we can not be silent", 50-year-old Galina Apraksina told AFP.

Smaller commemorative events took place in other cities across Russian Federation.

An officer in the security forces of Chechnya's Kremlin-backed leader Ramzan Kadyrov was convicted of firing the shots that killed Nemtsov and received a 20-year prison term.

But Nemtsov's relatives and associates believe his killing was ordered at a higher level, and say justice will not be served until the person or people behind it are identified and prosecuted.

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