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Police Raid Rally as Human Rights Activists Appeal to Ministry

Published: April 7, 2009 (Issue # 1463)


Human rights activists appealed to Russias Interior Minister about alleged police beatings and humiliation of protesters in St. Petersburg last month, while the police broke up a peaceful rally against police arbitrariness and arrested a number of participants on Saturday. Four protesters were held in custody for 48 hours until they were released by a court on Monday afternoon.

The protest and appeal both addressed a protest held by anarchists in St. Petersburg on March 27 in support of workers who took control of their plant in Kherson, Ukraine on Feb. 2. The demonstration was brutally dispersed by the police, who detained around 20 participants, some of whom later complained of being beaten and humiliated during the arrests and after being taken to Police Precinct 76.

On Saturday, anarchists and ant-Nazi activists held 48 one-person protests a form of demonstration that does not require any authorization from City Hall along Nevsky Prospekt, St. Petersburgs main street, but were dispersed by the police, who detained five protesters and a photographer.

Protesters stood at a 20-meter distance from each other, holding posters with slogans against police arbitrariness such as No to Unlawfulness and Policeman, I Pay You with My Taxes, as well as rather more absurdist ones such as Its Scary to Live and Jah Is With Us. Some had taped over their mouths so as not to be charged with using bad language in public one of the standard charges used by the police against activists in the event of being detained.

I came out to hold a one-person demo to protest against police arbitrariness, read the leaflet that protesters handed out to passers-by.

A one-person demo doesnt require any authorization. But the policemen do not know the laws and invent various pretexts for detainments. Thats why my mouth is taped so that the police shouldnt attempt to charge me with using bad language or drinking strong alcoholic drinks in public again.

Two detained activists were charged with resisting arrest, and two with violating the rules for holding public events.

It is obviously unlawful when people who attempt to act in a legal way are stopped and detained, said one protest participant who only gave his first name, Dmitry, by phone on Monday.

It appears that now, because of the crisis, everybody is afraid of everybody, they want to stop people from protesting. Thats why even the funniest and most absurd slogans are seen as a political demonstration and nipped in the bud.

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ALL ABOUT TOWN

Monday, Sept. 1


Today marks the beginning of Lermontov-Fest, a fall festival celebrating the life of one of Russias most remarkable poets who, in a fate eerily similar to Pushkins, was killed in a duel at the age of 26. Organized by the Lermontov Library System, the next several months will see art exhibitions, concerts and public lectures focusing on the Lermontovs short yet prolific career. Check the Lermontov Library Systems website for more details.



Tuesday, Sept. 2


Join expats and practice your Russian during the Russian Clubs weekly meeting tonight at 7:30 p.m. The club is free to participate in although you need to be a registered member of Couchsurfing.



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