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Crushing Dissent in Nizhny Novgorod

On Saturday, the Associated Press on the crackdown by riot police of an anti-government rally held in Nizhny Novgorod. The protest, organized by Other Russia among other groups, was denied a permit by the authorities to hold the proceedings in the central square. The Kremlin also went to extraordinary lengths to prevent this public show of disapproval – for example, Marina Litvinovich, an aide to Garry Kasparov, was arrested twice and released on her way to the rally for the invented charge of driving a stolen car. Other protest leaders were arrested under terrorism charges for allegedly distributing pamphlets describing “how to make bomb.” When the multitudinous rally convened, a large squad riot police were dispatched, violence erupted, and hundreds were arrested, according to news reports. Among the arrested were photographers from the AP, Reuters, and the New York Times. State-controlled news television gave no coverage to the story. Below are some images and news clips describing the action on the scene. A video news clip of the crackdown can be watched here.

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An Associated Press photographer saw dozens of protesters taken into custody by police and some beaten with truncheons. The photographer was briefly detained by officers, who later released him, saying there had been a mistake.

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A small group of elderly people yelling “Fascists! Fascists!” tried to hold back a second wave of police officers, who charged the square after the initial protesters had been carted off. But they fell to the ground under the heavy police shields. “Look, this is a democracy,” said one woman there who refused to be identified. “Under Stalin we had free education and free health care. Now we are not free to say anything.

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A police helicopter hovered over Gorky Square and adjacent roads were blocked by lines of riot police, several witnesses told Reuters. City buses were used to ferry away those arrested and scuffles broke out as police wrestled with chanting protesters and removed flags.