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Moscow police detain a record number of citizens in two days of protests

December 08, 2011, 13:04 UTC+3
The Russian Union of Journalists has already responded to these facts, demanding an investigation into
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MOSCOW, December 8 (Itar-Tass) — Moscow police rounded up a record number of protesters in two days: about 1,000 persons. They draw protocols on all the detainees; some get a 15-day arrest. Among the arrested persons were journalists of the "Novaya Gazeta", the "Gazeta.ru", and the "Kommersant". The "Kommersant" correspondent was beaten up by police. International organizations called for releasing the arrested persons.

Participants in rallies tell they had not seen police act this tough for a long time, the "Novye Izvestia" writes. Alexander Chernykh, a "Kommersant" journalist, came to cover the rally for the newspaper. When police began to detain the protesters, he was standing by a police van showing his journalist's ID. Two helmeted police holding batons walked up to him, one of them unexpectedly hit the correspondent on the leg and told him to leave. The journalist replied that he was a reporter present at the meeting to cover it, to which the policeman rudely said "You're nobody here." "Gazeta.ru" observer Bozhena Rynska was detained, too. "I was detained despite my journalist’s ID," Rynska wrote on Facebook.

The Russian Union of Journalists has already responded to these facts, demanding an investigation into the cases of detention and beating of the reporters in performance of their duties. The Union branded the actions by police as the attempt to "muzzle" the society, intimidate it, by demonstrating force and the opportunity to break the law with impunity, the newspaper said.

A number of cultural workers were detained at the rally on Tuesday, the "Novye Izvestia" reports, including piano player Fyodor Amirov and composer Alexander Manotskov. Manotskov was severely beaten in the police wan. Producer Dmitry Vorobyevsky was arrested on December 4.

On Wednesday, Moscow police set free several detainees: Yabloko leader Sergei Mitrokhin (detained despite the norm banning the detention of State Duma candidate without prosecutor's sanction), Other Russia leader Eduard Limonov, head of the Memorial rights center Oleg Orlov and journalists, the "Kommersant" notes. However, half of all detainees are still kept in police stations. Moscow police have not specified their numbers, explaining that at present, 6,000 to 7,000 people are under arrest for administrative offences and that no statistics on detainees from the Opposition are available.

Moscow police have detained a record number of protesters since 2007 (at that time, 5,000 people were detained during the "Russian March"), the "Moskovsky Komsomolets" writes; 600 persons were detained on Tuesday, and the number of the detainees since the election has approached 1,200.

Human Rights Watch urged the Russian authorities to release the detained protesters, the "Nezavisimaya Gazeta" notes. "“The protesters have a right to express their concerns about the way the elections were carried out,” said Hugh Williamson, Europe and Central Asia director at Human Rights Watch, “arresting peaceful protesters and imposing jail time hardly speaks well for the government and is unacceptable in a democratic society.”

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