Police Raid Rally as Human Rights Activists Appeal to Ministry
Published: April 7, 2009 (Issue # 1463)
Human rights activists appealed to Russia’s 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. Petersburg’s 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 “It’s 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 doesn’t require any authorization. But the policemen do not know the laws and invent various pretexts for detainments. That’s why my mouth is taped — so that the police shouldn’t 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. That’s why even the funniest and most absurd slogans are seen as a political demonstration and nipped in the bud.”Pages: