Russian opposition leader held during highway protest

2nd August 2010, Comments 0 comments

The leader of Russia's opposition Yabloko party was among several people arrested on Monday during a demonstration against a scheme to build a highway through a forest outside Moscow, the movement said.

Around 50 environmental activists and opposition figures had gathered in a suburb of Moscow to protest the destruction of part of Khimki forest in order to build a section of the highway running between Moscow and Saint Petersburg.

"Ten minutes after the start of the gathering, where Sergei Mitrokhin was present, police surrounded the area and began loading all the protestors into the back of their vehicles," Yabloko said in a statement.

"The police twisted Sergei Mitrokhin's arm behind his back and made him lie on the floor of the vehicle."

Another of those arrested was Sergei Udaltsov, the leader of the Left Front movement, who told the Moscow Echo radio station the arrests were "groundless".

"Every tool of repression is being used to carry out the illegal slaughter of this forest," he said.

The arrests come after a demonstration against the same road project descended into violence last week, as hundreds of youths threw smoke bombs and smashed windows of a municipal building.

Police on Monday seized photographs of last week's demonstrations from the newspaper Kommersant, its editor-in-chief said.

"Three police investigators from the Moscow region made the confiscations in Kommersant's newsroom," Mikhail Mikhailin told Moscow Echo.

"They were interested in photos published in the newspaper and on the website," he said.

Police also planned to question journalists who covered the violence, Mikhailin said.

© 2010 AFP

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