Riot police in Moscow tried to stop procession in memory of murdered journalists
A rally in memory of murdered journalists held on Sunday 17 December in the centre of Moscow attracted around 400 people, including many members of the Moscow and nationwide media.
They remembered their colleagues – Anna Politkovskaya, Yury Shchekochykhin, Dmitry Kholodov and others, with many holding photos of the journalists killed.
A list was read out at the rally of 211 journalists killed in Russia since 1997. The last journalist on the list was Anna Politkovskaya.
The fairly large number of police officers on the square did not interfere with the rally. However the OMON [riot police] attempted to prevent the procession in memory of the murdered journalists which took place before the beginning of the rally. The participants, carrying photos of their murdered colleagues walked from the House of Journalists on Nikitsky Boulevard to Novopushkinsky Square. They chanted the slogans “Down with lawlessness!”, “Down with a police state!”
The riot police confronted them on Tverskoy Boulevard. They demanded that the marchers put away their placards, used force and blocked passage along the boulevard and pushing the participants against advertising boards. According to the Grani correspondent, the procedure was rather like a game, with the riot police demanding that the members of the procession fold away their placards and stroll along the boulevard, the participants obeying their demands, and then after several metres again unfolding their placards, at which the police again blocked their path.
The riot police referred to the demand of the Head of the Department for work with public security bodies of the Government of Moscow, Nikolai Kulikov. The document prohibits the holding of the process as supposedly interfering with the movement of Muscovites and guests to the city down Tverskoy Boulevard. According the Grani correspondent, aside from journalists and police officers, there was nobody else on the boulevard.
The radio station “Ekho Moskvy” reported that the General Secretary of the Russian Union of Journalists Igor Yakovenko noted that over recent years 211 journalists had been killed in Russia. “I invite all who believe that this figure must not be allowed to rise to pay respect to their friends and colleagues”, the said, stressing that the journalists had been killed “for journalism, for telling citizens of Russia and the entire world about what is happening in the country”,