Tuesday 18 June 2019
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The News - 5 days ago

More than 400 arrested at Moscow police abuse march

MOSCOW: More than 400 people including Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny were detained in Moscow on Wednesday, a monitor said, as authorities sought to break up a rally urging police reform after the framing of a journalist on drugs charges. Many Russians had hoped to harness the widespread outrage over last week s arrest of respected reporter Ivan Golunov on trumped-up drugs charges to press for genuine reform of Russia s tainted law enforcement and justice systems. But a much smaller crowd of protesters had turned up in central Moscow on Russia Day, a public holiday, amid fierce divisions among liberals. Police in riot gear moved in against the unsanctioned march at which some protesters chanted slogans against President Vladimir Putin. Police manhandled some protesters and beat others with truncheons amid shouts of you are criminals and stop police terror. As police dragged protesters into vans the crowd yelled: Shame, on Russia Day, this is our country s day! Have you forgotten the constitution? OVD Info, which tracks arrests, said more than 400 people were detained. Moscow police said earlier around 1,200 took part in the march and more than 200 people were arrested. Navalny faces up to 30 days in jail, his spokeswoman said.At the march the protesters said senior officials behind Golunov s case should be punished and called for broad reform of police and courts. Many called for the release of victims of police abuse and political prisoners including Ukrainian filmmaker Oleg Sentsov. Golunov, who investigated corruption among security services and Moscow officials, was framed in what was seen as punishment for his investigative work. Two senior police including an official in charge of drug control in Moscow are expected to be dismissed. Golunov s case presents a major headache for Putin who has in recent months been struggling with low approval ratings amid economic trouble and rising poverty. His arrest sparked a public outcry and triggered unprecedented solidarity among media, with three top newspapers publishing the same front page: I am/we are Ivan Golunov in giant letters on Monday. Wednesday s march was initially called to press for the release of Golunov who was then suddenly freed, with the charges against him dropped, on the eve of the rally. Many saw Golunov s release as a Kremlin attempt to avert the new protest wave.

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