Council of Europe concerned over arrests of opposition figures in Russia


Special police units beat and detained around one hundred participants of an unsanctioned “March of those in dissent” [Marsh niesoglashnykh”] in St Petersburg on Sunday 25 November.

Some were beaten and detained before the march, others during the attempt to hold the event. Among those detained were two leaders of the opposition Union of Right Forces Boris Nemtsov and Nikita Belykh. Both were later released. The law enforcement agencies say that protocols with regard to them were not drawn up and therefore, from a procedural point of view, there were no detentions.

On Saturday in Moscow another opposition leader and former world chess champion Garry Kasparov was jailed for 5 days. He had been attempting to organize a similar unsanctioned march in protest against the policies of President Putin. A number of other demonstrators were also detained.

The authorities said that they had allowed a rally in one place, but not a procession.

The Council of Europe has expressed concern over the detention of Kasparov and Nemtsov.  Its General Secretary Terry Davis pointed out that Russia had signed the European Convention on Human Rights which guarantees the right of peaceful assembly.


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