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15.04.2007

Anti-Putin demonstrations in Moscow crushed

   

Riot squads [OMON] used force to detain dozens of opposition activists in Moscow on Saturday 14 April, including the former world chess champion and leader of the United Civic Front Garry Kasparov. The protesters were trying to hold a banned “March of those in dissent” [“marsh nyesoglasnykh] calling for the resignation of President Vladimir Putin, Reuters reports.

The riot squads surged on the protesters as they gathered in small groups near Pushkin Square in the centre of Moscow, a kilometre away from the Kremlin. Those detained were thrown into police buses.

The anti-Putin movement “Other Russia” whose leaders include Garry Kasparov and ex-Prime Minister Mikhail Kasyanov, were planning to protest against what they see as the erosion of democratic freedoms in the country.

Kremlin supporters say that “Other Russia”, with the support of the West, is trying to undermine stability in the run up to the presidential elections in 2008 when Putin should stand down.

The Moscow city authorities refused to allow the “March of those in dissent” claiming that a place near Pushkin Square would be occupied by a rally of pro-Kremlin youth movements.

A Reuters photographer [Reuters themselves say two] and two camera crew were detained by police and herded into the buses.

Deputy of the State Duma Vladimir Pyzhkov whose Republican Party is in the Other Russia movement reported seeing how police had beaten those detained. “Three times today I saw how riot squads beat all in their path, including elderly people and women. And these were peaceful demonstrators who had not broken any laws.”

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