Russian opposition group leader jailed for demonstrations

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A court in Saint Petersburg jailed the leader of a Russian opposition group for 27 days on Monday for organising unauthorised demonstrations, his party said.

Pavel Smoliak, spokesman for the Russian Popular Democratic Union, said Andrey Pivarov had been sentenced for staging protests on August 31 and October 31.

"The authorities are trying in this way to put pressure on the opposition and neutralise it," he said.

Rights groups and opponents of Prime Minister Vladimir Putin stage demonstrations on the last day of every month with 31 days in a reference to Article 31 of the Constitution, which guarantees the right to protest.

The demonstrations, usually in Moscow and Saint Petersburg, are usually broken up by police with dozens of arrests.

© 2010 AFP

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