By Daniel Proussalidis
From Russia with love for Canada, democratic opposition leader Boris Nemtsov denies his country needs to see Canada as a rival in the Arctic.
“I think this is absolutely an artificial problem,” Nemtsov said in an interview with Sun News Network. “This is like a problem, which is generated in the Kremlin to show that we protect Russian interests, not because they have, for example, the opportunity to produce oil and gas in the Arctic or something like that.”
The opposition leader also blames Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin for the recent spy scandal in Canada that saw a naval intelligence officer arrested for allegedly passing secrets to Moscow.
Nemtsov says Putin uses espionage to change his image, which has been tarnished by corruption, and present himself as “a father who protects Russia from American imperialism.”
“Canada is one part of this game — not a main part fortunately, but one of the parts,” Nemtsov said. “(Putin’s) main political idea and main trend is to be a fighter against the West.”
Nemtsov’s Canadian tour comes about a month ahead of what he believes will be corrupt presidential elections that Putin will win.
Still, Putin faces increased protests from urban Russians upset by his decision to seek a third presidential term.
They’re also angry about fraud in December’s parliamentary election, which Putin’s party won.
Pro-democracy protesters say they expect to fill the streets of Moscow at a major demonstration the week before the presidential election, or soon after it.