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Poland Awards Top Rights Prize to Daughter of Boris Nemtsov
Date: 8/5/2015 6:37:58 AM Sender: VOA
Zhanna Nemtsova, left, the daughter of slain Russian opposition leader Boris Nemtsov stands together with Poland’s President Bronislaw Komorowski center, and former president. Lech Walesa, right, after receiving Poland’s 4 million zlotys ( US $1 million

Poland has awarded the journalist daughter of slain Russian democracy advocate and opposition leader Boris Nemtsov a $1.1 million human rights prize in recognition of the duo's advocacy.

Zhanna Nemtsova accepted the Solidarity award Tuesday in Warsaw, in ceremonies presided over by President Bronislaw Komorowski and Polish human rights icon Lech Walesa.  

At the ceremony, she asked the audience for a minute of silence to honor her late father, a vocal critic of Russian President Vladimir Putin.  Nemtsov was gunned down in public by unknown assailants in late February just steps from the Kremlin. The opposition has blamed the killing on the government.

The 31-year-old Nemtsova, who left Russia after her father's assassination, said she hoped the prize would inspire other Russians to believe "that it's worth continuing the fight, that we shouldn't give up."

Nemtsova, a former television journalist in Moscow, now works for German broadcaster Deutsche Welle in Berlin.

Poland, once a part of the Soviet bloc, established the national award in 2014 to mark the 25th anniversary of its first semi-democratic elections.  Those 1989 polls signaled the beginning of the end of the Soviet Union, which dissolved in 1991.

Days after Nemtsov's February 27 death, another opposition activist, Alexei Navalny, said he believed the assassination was carried out either by members of the state security services, or a "pro-government organization acting on the orders of the political leadership of the country," including President Putin.

The Kremlin has denied involvement.  President Putin, speaking days after the killing, called the murder a "disgrace"to Russia, and ordered top law enforcement officials to target politically motivated and high profile crimes.''  He also vowed to find the assailants.

Five suspects were later arrested, but no one has yet faced trial.

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