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Grigory Pasko: A Dispatch from the Frontlines

Did someone say martial law? The Russian power fears the Russian people Grigory Pasko, journalist I counted around two dozen trucks filled with soldiers speeding towards Moscow from Balashikha along Shchelkovskye chaussé at eight o’clock in the morning on 14 April (see photo of one of the trucks). avto.jpg Photo of truck with internal troops heading for Moscow by Grigory Pasko Units of special-designation [“spetsnaz”] police detachments were converging on Moscow from all over Russia all day on Friday the 13th. They were well equipped and, as subsequent events showed, well instructed as well. Thus, the places where the oppositioneers were to hold their “Marches of Those Who Disapprove” were already cordoned off by police detachments that night. For this reason, to get through to Pushkin Square, for example, did not prove possible. The police not only stood there as a human chain, but also infiltrated into the ranks of potential rally participants and dispersed them. Those who did not want to be dispersed were literally pushed apart. Seeing as how some opposition activists were already detained even before they got to the places where the actions were to start, we can assume that the OMONs had received photos of them during their briefing. Another detail: There were water cannon parked along Tverskaya street – most likely those same ones that had been bought in a large batch from Israel last year. Unfortunately, the Russian police didn’t have a chance to try out their new toys this time around – they’re already so good at protecting the power from the people that their truncheons and elbows proved as effective as any water cannon. According to a communiqué from the police leadership, around 9 thousand officers of the law enforcement organs were involved in “ensuring public order during the time of mass actions”. Personally speaking, looking from the side it was very clear that the disorders were being created by none other than the police. According to various sources, in excess of three hundred persons were detained by the police that day. Among their number – the leader of the youth “Yabloko”, Ilya Yashin; the leader of the youth movement “Da”, Maria Gaidar; many journalists; and the leader of the United Civic Front, Garry Kasparov.

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Photos of rally taken from www.svobodanews.ru

“Before my eyes the OMON in the area of the ‘Akter’ gallery was simply hammering little old ladies with truncheons, was hammering pensioners with truncheons, pensioners who were standing on the corner that is weren’t doing anything, weren’t holding any slogans, weren’t shouting out anything. They hammered them with truncheons, chased them, beat them in the back. This is simply abhorrent, impossible lawlessness”, told State Duma deputy Vladimir Ryzhkov on the air on the radio station “Echo Moskvy”. An attempt was undertaken to detain the leader of the People’s Democratic Union, Mikhail Kasyanov. But his bodyguards did not let the OMONs arrest the former prime-minister of Russia. The march as such never did take place. Or a rally. There were some brief speeches in the vicinity of Chistoprudny boulevard by Mikhail Kasyanov and the writer Shenderovich, and former State Duma deputy Irina Hakamada shouted out the slogan “Give us back elections, you vipers!”

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Photos of rally taken from www.svobodanews.ru

According to the assessments of journalists, around two thousand persons took part in the action. On the evening television programs, nearly all the television channels reported on the march of those who disagree. The intonation was like this: here the oppositioneers passed by, but here, on the Sparrow Hills – supporters of the power and president Putin, of whom there were several thousand. As deputy Vladimir Ryzhkov noted, Moscow resembled a city under martial law. And my final observation. I have seen various OMONs at various rallies. But those who were dispersing the peaceful demonstrators today in Moscow were the best equipped I’ve ever seen. And they looked well fed, content, and ready to do anything for their employers. Even kill someone. Just give the order. One more thing. It is said that Putin was nowhere near Moscow that day.