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27.04.2007

Participants in a picket against the actions of the Russian riot police may face 15 days imprisonment

   

The participants in a picket held to demand the resignation of the Head of the Central Department of Internal Affairs for the Petersburg and Leningradsky region Vladislav Piotrovsky over the actions of OMON [the riot police] against the “March of those in dissent” [“Marsh nyesoglasnykh”] were detained in St. Petersburg on Wednesday.

The picketers were wearing orange construction helmets with the sign “OGF” [for the United Civic Front]. The organizers explained that “Petersburg residents can only defend themselves from police batons with helmets”.

The protesters arrived at the Mariyinsky Palace at 9.30 hoping to meet Piotrovsky who was due to report to deputies on the events of 15 April.

According to the head of the Petersburg branch of the United Civic Front Olga Kurnosova, the notification about the picket had been sent in plenty of time to the city administration. However the Committee on law and order claimed that the number of participants in the picket (30) would “obstruct residents and visitors to the city in moving about St Isaac Square”. In a second notification, the organizers stated that there would be only 10 people and they received no objectives. Nonetheless, as soon the action began all participants, including Kurnosova were arrested and taken to the second police department where they were held until evening. They now await a court hearing and possibly administrative arrest.

According to Kurnosova “We are being charged under Articles 20.2 (violation of established procedure for holding mass events) and 19.3 (failure to comply with the lawful instructions of law enforcement officers). These charges allow for 15 days administrative arrest (i.e. imprisonment). She added that the charges were unwarranted. “We hope to win in the first instance court since we have video footage of the picket and witnesses.”

Based on information from www.grani.ru

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