Dozens detained in Russian opposition protests

31st May 2011, Comments 0 comments

Russian police detained dozens of opposition protesters on Tuesday including radical politician Eduard Limonov in the latest crackdown on regular unsanctioned protests in Moscow and Saint Petersburg.

Police detained Limonov and at least 15 other protesters shortly after the rally started near Moscow's central Triumfalnaya square where activists chanted "Russia Without Putin" before being pushed out by riot police.

The protest was one of a series of "Strategy 31" demonstrations organised for the 31st day of the month in reference to Article 31 of the Russian constitution which permits peaceful demonstrations.

Activists sported "Strategy 31" badges on the Triumfalnaya Ploshchad square, which was completely closed off by rows of police who stopped pedestrians from walking through, an AFP correspondent witnessed.

Around 200 protesters gathered in central Saint Petersburg and about 50 were swiftly detained and loaded onto police buses while yelling "Down with the Fascist Junta!"

Opposition politician Boris Nemtsov attended an opposition demonstration sanctioned by the authorities in the city of Nizhny Novgorod, where he served as governor in the mid-1990s. He signed autographs and brought his mother to the rally, the RIA Novosti news agency reported.

Moscow authorities have refused to sanction all but a couple of Strategy 31 rallies and have used police to break them up over several years while the opposition led by Limonov argues that the rallies require no official permit.

Analysts say Russia's fragmented opposition is unable to muster major protests and lacks a clear leader, factors that play into the authorities' hands ahead of parliamentary polls in December and presidential vote next year.

© 2011 AFP

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