200 detained in Moscow vote protests: police

4th December 2011, Comments 0 comments

Around 200 people were detained in central Moscow on Sunday as radical opposition supporters and nationalists rallied against the conduct of Russia's parliamentary elections, city police said.

Police detained opposition supporters and a radical opposition leader as they rallied in central Moscow on Sunday evening with the slogan "Elections without an opposition are a crime."

"After repeated warnings about the illegal nature of the event, more than 100 people were detained," the Interfax news agency quoted a police spokesman as saying.

The group was being charged with administrative rather than criminal violations after the gathering on the Triumfalnaya Ploshad square, the spokesman added.

The group detained in Moscow included the radical opposition leader Eduard Limonov, who has announced his plan to stand in the March 2012 presidential race.

Protesters said that police detained other supporters as they arrived at the square. Around 90 people were detained, a police spokesman told Interfax.

Protesters shouted "Shame, Limonov for president!" and "Give us back our elections!" as police halted the rally on the square, where radical opposition supporters regularly attempt to hold demonstrations.

Another 70 people were detained at a similar event in Saint Petersburg, police said.

Just as polls closed at 9:00 pm (1700 GMT), nationalists tried to hold an unsanctioned rally on a square close to the Kremlin, with riot police moving in to grab one of their leaders, Alexander Belov, as he gave a speech.

Belov called the elections the "dirtiest in all the history of Russia" and called for a fresh vote.

"We do not recognise these elections, we will demand their cancellation."

Belov told journalists that several other nationalist leaders had been detained by police, shortly before riot police rushed in to grab him and push him into one of the waiting vans.

Nationalists last month rallied thousands for a sanctioned march through a Moscow suburb on a public holiday called the Day of National Unity, with whistle-blowing blogger Alexei Navalny giving a speech.

Police ringed the square, where members of pro-Kremlin youth group Nashi arrived shortly afterwards to hold a flag-waving rally aimed at celebrating election day, after United Russia saw disappointing exit polls.


© 2011 AFP

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