Sunday, December 14, 2008

Russian opposition attempts to rally in Moscow - leader held

There is no freedom in Russia anymore. It's the USSR all over again...
MOSCOW – Police thwarted a banned anti-Kremlin protest in central Moscow on Sunday, seizing dozens of demonstrators and shoving them into trucks.
Organizers said 130 people were detained around the capital but police put the number at 90. The opposition movement headed by fierce Kremlin critic and former chess champion Garry Kasparov said the co-leader of the group was one of those seized.
The Other Russia movement organized the protest, in defiance of a ban, to draw attention to Russia's economic troubles and to protest Kremlin plans to extend the presidential term from four years to six. Critics say the constitutional change as part of a retreat from democracy and is aimed at strengthening the grip of Prime Minister Vladimir Putin and his allies.
News broadcasts on the main television networks made no mention of the Moscow crackdown or of protests in St. Petersburg and Vladivostok.Kasparov and other prominent liberals have just launched a new anti-Kremlin movement called Solidarity in a bid to unite Russia's liberal forces and encourage a popular revolution similar to those in Ukraine and Georgia.
Kasparov had vowed to carry out Sunday's protest although authorities had denied permission for it.
Before the scheduled start, hundreds of officers guarded Triumph Square, which was ringed by police trucks and metal barriers.
Police roughly grabbed protesters who tried to enter the square, dragging at least 25 people into waiting trucks.
Police also seized Other Russia co-leader Eduard Limonov along with a handful of bodyguards as they walked toward the square. They were bundled into police vehicles.
Kasparov and a group of supporters decided to avoid police by marching in a different location, then set off for a third site after finding another strong police presence, spokeswoman Marina Litvinovich said.
Dozens of protesters gathered at the third site and marched about a kilometer (half a mile) along a major street, shouting slogans such as "Russia without Putin!" before they dispersed.Kasparov traveled by car and the march was over when he arrived, Litvinovich said.

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