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Police detain at least 60 supporters of oppositionist Navalny in Moscow

July 18, 2013, 22:04 UTC+3
Protesters have lined up along the National and Moskva hotels and the State Duma building
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MOSCOW, July 18 (Itar-Tass) - Moscow police have detained at least 60 people who participated in an unauthorised protest against the guilty verdict handed down by Kirov’s court to opposition leader Alexei Navalny and his business partner Pyotr Ofitserov on Thursday, July 18.

Protesters have lined up along the National and Moskva hotels and the State Duma building and tried to block traffic on the adjacent streets. From time to time they chant “Freedom to Navalny” and “Navalny”, clap their hands and wave to the passing cars. Some of them toot their horns in reply.

Law enforcers are not interfering although reinforced police patrols, Interior Troops and OMON anti-riot units have been deployed in the area.

Mikhail Fedotov, the head of the presidential human rights council, said Navalny’s supporters could have organised a legal protest.

“Spontaneous actions do no good. It was known all along that the verdict to Navalny would be handed down, and those who wanted to support him could have filed a request and organised a rally, as they did so many times before,” he said.

Fedotov is also in downtown Moscow where the protests are taking place. He said police are acting correctly. “As far as I could see, police have been acting quite correctly,” he said, adding that no incidents have occurred so far.

“And I hope none will. It is very important to avoid bloodshed and violence,” Fedotov said.

Navalny and Ofitserov were taken into custody in the courtroom after the verdict had been announced.

Fedotov believes it was a mistake. “I think it was a mistake,” he said.

The ombudsman said that a defendant remains innocent until a court verdict takes effect.

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