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Russia: Riot Police Break Up Opposition Rally

Some 100 protesters gathered for an unsanctioned opposition rally in central Moscow on Friday. At 6 PM, hundreds of riot police broke up the rally, detaining 47 people, some of whom were said to be journalists and passerby.

LJ user zyalt posted a quick yet vivid photo report (RUS) from the rally (35 photos). Here is some of what he wrote:

[…] Once again the police have broken up an opposition rally – an unsanctioned one, once again – on Triumfalnaya Square.

[…] At this point, young guys showed up, took out their gas masks with some uncertainty, covered their faces with scarves – they were getting ready, in general. […] Some of them were quickly detained. […] Sensing that the show was on, the police, riot police and plainclothes officers started detaining all suspicious-looking young people. […] They threw everyone on the ground and tried to drag them into the cage. The dissenters resisted desperately.

[…] As usual, though, there were 20 photographers for every dissenter.

[…] At around 6:20 PM they started being rude to photographers. […]

[…] Via walkie-talkie, they summoned additional help, to push all the reporters inside the metro station. […] All of us entered the lobby cheerfully. […] They locked us in. […] Unfortunately, no one knew what to do with a crowd of journalists inside the metro station, so everyone walked out through the other door.

[…] Then the girls appeared. […] They were also screaming about freedom of speech and fascists. They were quickly detained.

[…] By the end of this feast, blue [police] shirts significantly outnumbered journalists and the dissenters. […]

[…] All as usual.

LJ user leosat thinks (RUS) that the Russian opposition is at a dead end:

It's not the first time that the Dissenters’ March runs into a solid wall made up of riot police. There is no reason to expect that the regime is going to change its attitude towards the Marches. And why would they, if [their current approach] is efficient? Moreover, the number of protesters is going down and support for them is weakening (it seems to me). […]

LJ user karimova, who attended the rally, does see certain changes (RUS) – changes for the worse:

I wasn't just chanting today, I was yelling like crazy. When something as wild is taking place right in front of you, it's impossible not to yell. I haven't participated in rallies in a long time, and I didn't expect that this is what it looks like in Russia of 2009. […] I'm crying as I recall 2005. Most of all, I am shocked by the plainclothes people. […] Riot police and the cops were chasing people back and forth, like cattle, rude enough. Two young policemen, however, with some special tenderness took me by my arms and pushed aside: “Dear miss, please go away, it's not our fault that you aren't allowed to stand here.” In general, I was morally prepared to end up at a police station today. Next time I'll get there, I guess, because I will stand at the square to the end, [damn it], and yell. You're asking what I'm protesting against? Against this unbearable stuffiness, if you know what I mean.”

LJ user oleg_kozyrev pinpoints (RUS) what might be considered a change for the better – but ends his post pessimistically, echoing LJ user karimova:

[…] It's good that people in gray [the police] ask photographers to erase their faces more often now – they understand that the internet's memory is long, and who knows, maybe there will be [lustrations] eventually.

The sad news is that 5 people out of the nearly 50 of the detained have been hospitalized […]. Cruel even for the times of Putin.

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