News Column

Russian Protesters Arrested in Moscow, St. Petersburg

Dec. 15, 2012

Russian police arrested more than 60 people at pro-democracy protests held Saturday in the bitter cold in various cities.

The rallies against President Vladimir Putin went ahead despite authorities insisting they were illegal.

Among those detained in Moscow were Alexey Navalny, who is a blogger and lawyer; Sergey Udalzov, who leads the Leftist Front; Ilja Yashin, who is active in Russia's Solidarity movement; and Xenia Sobchak, a celebrity television host.

The authorities said there were about 40 arrests in Moscow for offences under the laws on public gatherings, the Interfax news agency reported. In St Petersburg, police detained more than 20 nationalists who attended an anti-Putin rally.

The opposition asserted on the website that 7,000 demonstrators took part in the March for Freedom to the Moscow headquarters of the Russian intelligence service. Police put that number at 700.

Municipal authorities said no permit had been given for the march. The authorities and the march organizers discussed the event in advance, but were unable to reach agreement on a venue.

In temperatures well below 0 Celsius, Putin's opponents chanted, "Get rid of the criminals in power", "Russia without Putin", and "Freedom for political prisoners."

Smaller protests were held in other cities.

Source: Copyright 2012 dpa Deutsche Presse-Agentur GmbH

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