Join Date: 08 2004
Location: London, UK
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| | Гарри Каспаров арестован
Russian Police Arrest Kasparov, Opposition Protesters (Update1) |
By James Brooke and Henry Meyer
April 14 (Bloomberg) -- Russian police arrested opposition leader and former world chess champion Gary Kasparov today along with more than 100 supporters and several journalists at an unsanctioned protest against President Vladimir Putin in Moscow.
Thousands of riot police swarmed streets around central Moscow's Pushkin Square, the historical focus of democracy protests, after the city's authorities pledged the same display of police force that greeted the last protest in the capital, in December.
Kasparov, who leads a loose coalition of opposition groups called The Other Russia, was arrested minutes after the rally was to begin, said his spokeswoman, Natalya Morar. The Other Russia hopes to field candidates in the nation's parliamentary elections in December and presidential election next March.
``We demand free elections, not imitations or farces,'' Mikhail Kasyanov, a former prime minister who has turned against the Putin government, said in a brief speech at Turgenev Square, an alternative site that was sanctioned for the rally.
Opposition leaders charge that Putin is forcing Russia into a controlled system where the two main parties will both be supporters of the Kremlin -- United Russia and Fair Russia.
``Russia Without Putin,'' chanted protesters around Pushkin Square as demonstrators and both foreign and national reporters were herded into waiting police vans.
In all, 130 demonstrators were detained, said Moscow City police spokesman Vladimir Korobkov in a telephone interview, adding that 9,000 police and troops were put in the streets to control protesters. Most subway exits around Pushkin Square were closed.
The authorities are ``afraid,'' Oleg Muradov, a 38-year-old insurance company manager, said as he watched the arrests. ``But they are committing a stupid mistake because more and more people will come out for these types of protests.''
Dmitry Peskov, President Putin's spokesman, said today the police presence was designed to protect public safety. Between about 1,500 and 2,000 people attended the rally, according to estimates by Bloomberg reporters at Turgenev Square.
``Local authorities are doing their best to ensure security, to provide order -- that is why the extra amount of police is quite understandable,'' Peskov said by telephone. ``We are taking measures of precaution against ultra radicals who we know are planning violence.''
Yesterday, Russia demanded the extradition of exiled Russian billionaire Boris Berezovsky after he urged the overthrow of Putin by force in an interview with the London-based Guardian newspaper. Berezovsky confirmed his comments in a Bloomberg telephone interview yesterday from London, then later issued a statement saying he backs ``bloodless'' methods to bring about a change of regime.
``Terrible things are happening here,'' Vladimir Ryzhkov, a parliament member, said on Ekho Mosckvi radio during the march. ``I just saw the special police beating grandmothers and pensioners with billy clubs, hitting them in the back, people who were doing nothing. This smacks of complete lawlessness,'' he said.
Earlier this year, Ryzhkov's small Republican Party was one of 16 parties ruled too small by the government to run in the parliamentary elections in December.
As the arrests took place, a pro-government rally by the Young Guard took place peacefully in another section of Pushkin Square, which is a 15 minute walk from the Kremlin.
The heavy police presence, with riot officers dressed in camouflage gear, was designed to scare Moscow residents who might think of participating in unauthorized demonstrations, said Masha Lipman, political analyst for the Carnegie Moscow Center, in a mobile telephone interview from the opposition rally.
``I see intimidation in the rows of police with helmets and shields,'' said Lipman, a Russian. ``They want to discourage the people from showing up by showing so much force.''
Moscow's mayor, once a political opponent of the president, today defended his city's record of handling political demonstrations, Interfax news agency reported. The mayor, Yury Luzhkov, held a rare meeting on April 12 with Putin. Moscow newspapers have said he wants the Russian president to reappoint him in December to a fifth term.
``We have sanctioned a large number of events, both pro- government and pro-presidential and also anti-government ones,'' said Luzhkov, 70, according to the agency.
Russian television stations, which have fallen largely under state control during Putin's seven years in power, gave sparing or no coverage to today's protests in Moscow.
With oil prices about five times the level of a decade ago, Russia is in its ninth straight year of growth, helping to distract people from any loss of political rights.
``This is more something that foreigners focus on than anyone else, but for maybe the domestic intelligentsia,'' Kim Iskyan, an American, who is co-head of research for the investment bank Uralsib, said today. ``Things are better. The economy is booming. You can buy stuff. People are renovating their apartments. They are not that concerned about being able to march in the street.''
To contact the reporters on this story: James Brooke in Moscow at [email protected] ; Sebastian Alison in Moscow at [email protected] ; Henry Meyer in Moscow at [email protected]
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