Putin defends use of force during banned protests: report
Prime Minister Vladimir Putin on Monday warned police would use force to crackdown on opposition protests, saying in an interview that protestors would "take a cudgel to the head" during banned gatherings.
"They need to obtain permission from the local authorities... If they go out without permission, they'll take a cudgel to the head. That's all there is to it," Putin said in an interview with the Russian daily Kommersant published Monday.
The premier mocked what he called the ease with which anti-government critics had the ear of the media, saying there was no need for unsanctioned protests.
"If the aim is to say something, they should do things differently," the tough-talking premier said.
"They just need to invite journalists and cameras... Why is the modern world so good? You can say something standing around the public toilets and the whole world will hear because there will be cameras there!"
Authorities regularly use force to disperse anti-government protests in Moscow, even though the country's opposition is weak and fragmented and its protests usually do not attract a lot of sympathisers.
But activists insist the right to freedom of assembly is guaranteed by Arcticle 31 of the Russian constitution and have held a series of prostests on the 31st day of the month in reference to the article.
Earlier this month activists staged a banned rock concert to protest controversial plans to build a motorway through a forest outside the capital and at least 2,000 people assembled for the concert, a much larger turnout than in previous months.
© 2010 AFP