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Opposition Rally in Moscow Broken Up by Police

According to news reports this weekend, about 2,500 supporters from The Other Russia, a coalition of opposition party members of the United Civil Front, the People’s Democratic Union, the unregistered Republican Party, and several independent trade unions, marched in Moscow on Saturday to protest the current regime. Led by Garry Kasparov and Mikhail Kasyanov, the protests were contained and severely limited by heavy riot police presence, which some say cut off traffic to prevent more from joining, and arbitrarily arrested known activists, according to the Reuters report. Here you can view the raw footage, and click here for the correspondent’s report. From the Moscow Times report:

A motley crowd of 2,500 opposition activists on Saturday descended on Triumfalnaya Ploshchad chanting “Freedom!” and “Russia without Putin!” only to be overwhelmed by riot police. The Other Russia, a coalition of liberal groups that agree on little except that they oppose President Vladimir Putin, had promised a March of Dissent from Triumfalnaya Ploshchad to Teatralnaya Ploshchad. But the 8,500 OMON riot police, accompanied by helicopters, trucks and buses, deterred demonstrators from straying beyond their tight security ring. “We decided to spare your heads,” Eduard Limonov, head of the unregistered National Bolshevik Party, told the crowd, explaining why plans for the march had been dropped. … “This government squashed our liberties,” Kasparov declared. “We need another Russia.” Limonov called for the resignation of Federal Security Service chief Nikolai Patrushev, Justice Minister Vladimir Ustinov and Central Election Commission Chairman Alexander Veshnyakov. Kasyanov asked Russians to unite behind opposition candidates in the 2007 State Duma elections and the 2008 presidential race. Opposition leaders said Saturday that The Other Russia would nominate a presidential candidate in 2008. “We’ve got 15 months until the change of government,” he said. “If this government continues with their policies, the country will fall apart.” As the former prime minister spoke, a trio of elderly men argued beneath the monument to Vladimir Mayakovsky about whether it would be better to burn Putin alive or hang him. Kasparov warned protesters to avoid confrontations with the police, saying there were subversives among them seeking to provoke a scuffle. Indeed, as Kasparov spoke, a group of men unfurled a banner reading “Stalin Beria Gulag” and shouted, “Fascists!” They were quickly ushered away. “This is a classic provocation,” Kasparov said of the group of men. “Today, the television will show them, saying it is we who are the extremists.”