Thursday, September 30, 2010

“Antitrust in Russia” Conference Scheduled for October

FAS and the business newspaper, Vedomosti, NP, will jointly sponsor an upcoming conference “Antitrust in Russia”, on October 22, 2010. The second annual Moscow conference will gather representatives from judicial, executive and legislative branches, as well as lawyers and economisists, to discuss Russia’s competition policy, high-profile antitrust cases, and the standards of the “second antimonopoly package” adopted last year. Among the planned speakers is FAS Head, Igor Artemyev.

Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Moscow Mayor Dismissed Amidst Scandal

Russia’s President, Dmitri Medvedev, dismissed Moscow Mayor, Yuri Luzhkov, aged 74, who had been in office for 18 years.  During the last several weeks all major federal government-controlled TV channels broadcasted programs discrediting Luzhkov (alleging, among other things, corruption), in an apparent attempt to force his resignation.  Luzhkov, however, openly refused to resign voluntarily.  Ultimately, Medvedev fired Luzhkov on the grounds the latter “has lost the trust of the President.”  According to the current legislation, a new Mayor is to be appointed by the President, rather than elected by popular vote.

Russia’s Investigation Committee to be Reformed

Russia’s President, Dmitri Medvedev, issued a decree dissolving the Investigation Committee of the Prosecutor's Office of the Russian Federation, a body responsible for the investigation of major crimes.  He formed in its place a new Investigation Committee of the Russian Federation, thus substantially increasing the status of the organization. All 20,000 former Committee employees were formally dismissed, but most of them will apparently be accepted to the new organization.                                              

Farmer Convicted of Slavery in Kazakhstan

Kazakhstan farmer, Tursynbek Akhzhunisov, was convicted of holding three persons in slavery for 18 years. His victims were forced to work without pay, were poorly fed, and were captured and beaten if they tried to escape.  Akhzhunisov and his son got suspended prison terms. The court awarded no damages to his victims.                                                                   

Monday, September 27, 2010

Seventeen Individuals Attempt to Collect the 100,000 Signatures Needed for Registration as a Presidential Candidate in Belarus

The Central Elections Committee of Belarus officially registered seventeen “supporting groups” for  potential Presidential candidates.  The supporting groups will attempt to collect the 100,000 voters’ signatures that are a prerequisite for registration on the Presidential ballot.  Presidential elections in Belarus have been scheduled for December 19, 2010, and the signatures must be collected by October 29, 2010. Among the seventeen individuals seeking the Presidency are the current President of Belarus, Alexander Lukashenko; Deputy Chairman of the United Civil Party, Jaroslav Romanchuk; and long-time political opposition leader, Nikolai Statkevich.

Diabetes Drugmaker, Novo Nordisk, May Face Heavy Fine From FAS

FAS has accused Danish pharmaceutical company, Novo Nordisk, of violating anti-monopoly legislation, and as a result, the company may face an administrative fine of up to 15% of its sales in Russia.  FAS announced that Novo Nordisk unjustifiably refused to sign agreements with certain buyers, and discriminated against potential partners, which has led to a “restriction of competition”.  Under Russian law, a company that occupies a dominant market position is not allowed to refuse to sign a contract with a partner, without cause.  Novo Nordisk, a worldwide manufacturer of diabetes medicines, is considering whether to appeal the decision. 

Friday, September 24, 2010

Constitutional Court of Ukraine Will Decide Constitutionality of 2004 Political Reform

The Constitutional Court of Ukraine held oral arguments (broadcast live for the first time on the "First" national television station) regarding the case challenging the constitutionality of Law No. 2222-IV.   The Law amended the Constitution and served as a springboard for the 2004 political reform which transferred certain Presidential powers to Verkhovna Rada, the Parliament, and to the Cabinet of Ministers, creating a parliamentary-presidential form of government.   Challengers allege that Law No. 2222-IV is unconstitutional because the Constitutional Court did not review and approve the Law prior to its adoption, as required by the Constitution. The Court is expected to issue a decision within a week.                         

Thursday, September 23, 2010

FAS to Monitor Big Three Cellular Operators for Evidence of Monopolistic Behavior

FAS announced that it would investigate Russia’s largest three cellular operators, MTS, VimpelCom and MegaFon, for evidence that they had violated Russia’s law “On protection of competition.”  The combined market share of MTS, VimpelCom and MegaFon is about 85%, which exceeds the threshold for collective dominance under Russia's competition law.  FAS is concerned that the dominance of the “big three” may allow them to collectively maintain high monopoly prices with regard to roaming services, and may lead to unfavorable contract terms for customers.

Cyprus Court Freezes Assets of Russian Tycoon Kerimov

A Cyprus court has issued an ex-parte injunction freezing $ 6 billion in Russian assets, including Suleiman Kerimov's stakes in potash producer Uralkali and mining group Polyus Gold. The underlying case involves a $ 2 billion claim related to a Moscow hotel complex owned by Kerimov. The freezing order comes at a delicate time as Uralkali may be seeking a merger with rival Silvinit. Kerimov's Polyus Gold has also been trying to hold on to a recent acquisition of KazakhGold, which authorities in Kazakhstan are trying to reverse.

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

“Putin-2012” Domain Annulled

The first stage of the registration of domains in the new Cyrillic Internet zone “.РФ” (referring to “Russian Federation”) has been completed. Only state bodies and registered trademark owners were allowed to participate. The leader in terms of the number of registered domains is Russia’s Federal Security Service (FSO). It had registered 424 domain names, including “Путин-2012.РФ” (Putin-2012.RF). However, after public speculation that the name was related to the 2012 presidential election campaign, FSO revoked its application for "Putin-2012.RF", along with eight other questionable domain names.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Moldovan Constitutional Court Orders Dissolution of Parliament

Moldova’s Constitutional Court directed acting President, Mihai Ghimpu, to dissolve the parliament and to call early elections. The reason for the court directive is that the parliament has been unable to elect a new President in two attempts, as required by the Constitution.

Chairperson of Moscow City Court Complains of Criminal Pressure

Moscow City Court Chairperson, Olga Yegorova, complained to journalists that criminal pressure upon judges has reached an “unprecedented scale.” Yegorova stated that 13 Moscow judges had recently requested police protection, and one of those judges was later assassinated.  Yegorova also said that for the first time in her 40-year career, she has personally received criminal threats. According to Russian Supreme Court data, nine judges were murdered in Russia during the last three years, but only two of those cases have been solved.

Uzbekistan Nationalizes Russian-Owned Milk Plant

A court in Uzbekistan confiscated all assets of Tashkent WBD, a dairy and local subsidiary of Russian-owned Wimm-Bill-Dann Foods. Tashkent WBD was charged with numerous tax and customs violations, and its assets were accordingly subject to confiscation as “instruments of crime".  Applying amnesty, the court ceased separate criminal prosecution against individual managers of the milk plant.

Monday, September 20, 2010

Ukraine Takes Dispute With Armenia To WTO

Under WTO protocol, Ukraine has requested consultations with Armenia concerning the importation and internal sale of cigarettes and alcoholic beverages.  Ukraine alleges that Armenia's law "On Presumptive Tax for Tobacco Products" violates Article III of the GATT 1994, and paragraph 1.2 of Armenia's Protocol of Accession to the WTO, because it imposes a discriminatory tax on imported tobacco products.  Ukraine further alleges that 24% custom duties on tobacco products under this law are higher than Armenia’s WTO bound 15% rate. In addition, Ukraine complains that Armenia's law “On Excise Tax” also allegedly violates Article III of the GATT 1994 because it applies higher excise taxes on imported alcoholic beverages than on domestic products.

Ukraine Will Adopt Tax Code

Ukraine's Cabinet of Ministers announced that its parliament, Verkhovna Rada, would adopt a new tax code to take effect on January 1, 2011.  The new tax code declares a zero profit tax rate for small businesses with an annual turnover not greater than 3 million UAH and for single taxpayers with an annual turnover not greater than 300,000 UAH, and a 19% profit tax rate from 2011. The adoption of the tax code is necessary step for the adoption of the 2011 state budget.

Polish Court Refuses to Arrest Chechen Separatist Leader

A court in Warsaw rejected a request from the prosecutor's office to arrest Chechen separatist leader, Akhmed Zakayev.   Zakayev arrived in Poland from the UK to participate in the World Chechen Congress.  The prosecutor's request was made on behalf of Russia, who accuses Zakayev of terrorism and seeks his extradition. The court grounded its refusal to arrest Zakayev on his refugee status in the UK.

Saturday, September 18, 2010

Russia’s Supreme Court Rules on Libel Awards

Russia’s Supreme Court Plenum issued a ruling, binding on all general-jurisdiction courts, concerning libel damages awarded against mass media outlets. According to the ruling, which aims to provide uniformity in judicial practice, libel awards must be “reasonable and fair”, and must not breach “mass media freedom.” The ruling addresses the Supreme Court's concern that, currently, libel awards are often too high, and may lead to bankruptcy of the mass media.

Friday, September 17, 2010

Secured Transactions – Ukrainian Style

Based on a complaint made by the Ukrainian bank “Ukrsotsbank”, criminal charges were brought in connection with an allegedly unlawful sale of the "Podolsky" department store building. The building, sold without notice to Ukrsotsbank, apparently served as collateral for the bank’s $70 M loan to a popular Ukrainian restaurant chain, “Puzata Hata".  The Puzata Hata chain is currently in bankruptcy, and allegedly it has been transferring its assets to another entity, without notifying Ukrsotsbank, in an effort to avoid repayment of its debt.  While some question the ultimate success of the criminal charges - the department store was the guarantor and not the debtor – Ukrsotsbank's lawyers are optimistic about winning the building for the bank.

Ukrainian Judicial Convention Elects New Leaders and Judges

Delegates to The Tenth Extraordinary Convention of Judges of Ukraine, the highest body of judicial self-government, recently elected:  new members for the Council of Judges; four judges for the Constitutional Court; two members for the High Council of Justice, and a new Chairman for the State Judicial Administration (an executive body).  President Viktor Yanukovych addressed the Convention emphasizing that an “independent, accessible and efficient justice system, which meets world standards, is one of the main priorities of Ukraine.” Delegates admitted that the anonymity of the election was somewhat of a formality because discussions regarding candidates were held during conferences.   In addition, delegates stated that the convention bulletins did not offer alternative candidates for voting purposes.

Moscow Official Complains of Illegal Shadowing

Oleg Mitvol, a Moscow district prefect, complained to both the prosecutor's office and to the police of illegal shadowing. Recently, an anonymous Internet video was published showing Mitvol’s car repeatedly breaching traffic rules.  Mitvol has complained that the video illegally breaches the right to the inviolability of private life.   Mitvol believes that Kremlin-backed youth movement “Nashi” is responsible for the anonymous video publication.
The questionnable video:

Construction Firm Sues Over Awarded Bid to Provide Legal Services to Russia

Moscow Military Construction Department, a little-known Moscow construction firm with only two lawyers on its staff, won the 2010 government contract for “Forming the Legal Position of Russian Authorities in Relation to Complaints Submitted to the European Court of Human Rights [against Russia]” in civil-law cases.  The Ministry of Justice announced that the construction firm won the tender because its $50 hourly fee was the lowest bid, with fees for other competitive bidders ranging from $200 to $300 per hour.  According to current legislation, the Ministry is obligated to solicit bids for any services it may need, and it must accept the lowest bid regardless of experience levels.   Since the announcement, the Ministry has failed to assign any legal matters to the construction firm.  Accordingly, the construction firm has sued the Ministry, asking that it assign legal matters within the framework of the awarded contract.

Rights Activist Gets Life Sentence in Kyrgyzstan

A court in Kyrgyzstan sentenced a prominent rights activist, Azimzhan Askarov, to life imprisonment on charges of organizing inter-ethnic clashes and mass disorders.  Askarov, an Uzbek by ethnic origin, was charged with organizing clashes in June of this year that resulted in, among other things, the murder of a policeman.  Kyrgyz ombudsman, Tursunbek Akun, called the charges trumped up, and criticized the judgment as "unreasonable".

Thursday, September 16, 2010

Russian Officials Win Libel Suit Against Journalists

Vasily Yakimenko, head of the Federal Agency for Youth Affairs ("Rosmolodezh"), and his brother, Boris Yakimenko, a high-ranking functionary of the pro-Kremlin youth movement (“Nashi”), won a libel suit against several mass media and individual journalists. The journalists had accused the Yakimenko brothers of being involved in the creation and Internet publication of hidden-camera videos intended to compromise a number of opposition activists.  Among other things, the videos appear to show activists taking drugs, engaging in sexual acts, and offering bribes.  A Moscow court found the accusations false and awarded $5,000 in damages to the Yakimenko brothers.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Russia, Norway Divide Barents Sea

Russia and Norway signed a treaty establishing a sea border between the two countries. The treaty brings an end to the 40-year-old territorial dispute over 175,000 square kilometers of the Barents Sea. The disputed area, believed to be rich in oil and gas deposits, was divided equally between the two countries.

Georgia, Azerbaijan and Romania Establish Joint Venture to Transport Natural Gas to Europe

The Presidents of Azerbaijan, Georgia, and Romania signed a memorandum establishing a joint venture for transporting Azerbaijani natural gas to Europe via tanker. Azerbaijan will be the producer of natural gas, Georgia will act as a transit country, and Romania will secure access to European pipelines. The project is expected to compete both with the Russia-sponsored “South Stream” (a proposed gas pipeline from Russia to Europe) and with the EU-sponsored “Nabucco” (a pipeline from Turkey to Europe).

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Microsoft Offers Blanket Software Licenses in Response to Russian Security Crackdown

Microsoft’s general counsel, Brad Smith, announced on Monday that the company would provide automatic blanket software licenses to advocacy groups and media outlets in Russia. The announcement followed concerns that Russian security forces were attempting to muzzle dissent in the country by confiscating computers from these groups under the guise that they were investigating piracy of Microsoft's intellectual property. In a post on Microsoft’s blog, Mr. Smith explained that “[w]e want to be clear that we unequivocally abhor any attempt to leverage intellectual property rights to stifle political advocacy or pursue improper personal gain.” Microsoft indicated that its new blanket software policy would apply in other countries, as well, but did not immediately name which ones.

Microsoft to Grant Free Licenses to Russian NGO's

Microsoft announced that it will introduce a new type of the software license that should allow NGO's in Russia and certain other countries to legally use Microsoft products free of charge. The move followed an article in The New York Times saying Russian authorities use copyright law as a tool for suppressing dissent. According to the article, the Russian police often raid “undesirable” NGO's and confiscate their computers under the pretext of searching for pirated Microsoft software.

Ukrainian Investigators: Interior Minister Ordered Assassination

Ukraine’s General Prosecutor Office completed the pre-trial investigation of the Gongadze murder case. In 2000, Georgi Gongadze, a journalist who sharply criticized the Ukrainian leaders in power at that time, including President Leonid Kuchma, was abducted and murdered. The active investigation started in 2005 in the wake of the so-called “Orange Revolution.” In 2008, three police officers were convicted of the murder. Charges are now being brought against General Alexey Pukach, who was a police officer at the time of the murder and who was found and arrested in 2009; Pukach allegedly organized the murder and personally participated in it. According to investigators, Pukach was following orders of then Interior Minister Yuri Kravchenko. In 2005, Kravchenko was found dead after being summoned to the General Prosecutor's Office to be questioned about the Gongadze murder. According to official reports, Kravchenko committed suicide (even though he had apparently been shot twice in the head). (video: Pukach arrest)

Monday, September 13, 2010

Hague Court Resumes Hearings in Georgia v. Russia

The UN International Court of Justice (ICJ), located in the Hague, the Netherlands, resumed its hearings in the case where Georgia accuses Russia of the racial discrimination of Georgians in relation to the 2008 Russian-Georgian war over South Ossetia, a breakaway Georgian province. Russia calls the suit “clear abuse of judicial procedures” arguing that Russia is not responsible for any possible racial discrimination in South Ossetia or Abkhazia (another Georgian breakaway region) because it does not exercise control over those territories. The ICJ decision on the jurisdiction issue is expected to be entered in a matter of weeks.

Moscow Local Government to Sue Federal TV Channels

The government of the city of Moscow announced its intention to sue several federal Russian TV channels that broadcasted on September 10-12, 2010 programs sharply criticizing Moscow Mayor Yuri Luzhkov and his wife Elena Baturina (who is widely regarded to be the wealthiest businesswoman in Russia). The Moscow government believes the corruption allegations against the Mayor are “outright lies.” The federal anti-Moscow-Mayor campaign was unleashed after an article by Luzhkov was published in the Rossiyskaya Gazeta. In that piece, the Mayor indirectly opposed the position taken by President Dmitry Medvedev concerning the proposed location of a new highway that will run from Moscow to St. Petersburg.

See the questionable film (“Delo v kepke”) here:

Friday, September 10, 2010

Russia, Lithuania Accuse International Speculators of Causing Buckwheat Shortages

The Agriculture Ministers of Russia and Lithuania opined that the skyrocketing buckwheat prices are caused by “international speculations.” According to official statistics, since the beginning of this year, the buckwheat price in Russia has grown by 96%. President Dmitry Medvedev has instructed the Agriculture Ministry to regulate buckwheat prices.

Russian Court Bans Parallel Import

Russia’s Supreme Arbitrazh (Economic) Court refused to reconsider the decisions of lower courts that upheld the claim of a French trademark owner against Russian unauthorized (known as “parallel” or “grey”) importers of mineral water “Evian.” This is the first time the issue reached the highest-level economic court. The outcome apparently bans the parallel import of trademarked goods to Russia and may end a long-standing legal dispute regarding how Russian trademark legislation should be interpreted in this regard.

Thursday, September 9, 2010

St. Petersburg Policeman Charged with Beating Oppositionist

Prosecutor Office investigators brought criminal charges against St. Petersburg police officer Vadim Boyko, who is accused of “exceeding official authority with the use of violence and special tools.” According to investigators, during the August 31 demonstration (which the police dispersed) in support of Article 31 of the Russian Constitution (freedom of assembly), Boyko, while on duty, hit a meeting participant on the head with a rubber baton. The charges were brought in the wake of a public scandal caused by the video recording of the beating published in the Internet.

See the record of the incident here (at 7:10):

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Moscow Oppositionists Jailed for Defiance

A court in Moscow punished three leaders of the liberal opposition by “administrative arrest” (short-term imprisonment) for “defiance of police orders.” One of the leaders, 69-year-old Lev Ponomarev, who, according to the police, “gave an anti-Moscow-Mayor interview on a sideway blocking a passage to the subway,” was sentenced to four days in prison. Coincidentally, Ponomarev was sent to prison at the very moment of a meeting of the U.S.-Russia Bilateral Presidential Commission Working Group for Civil Society. Russian presidential administration official Vladislav Surkov, who is believed to be in charge of anti-opposition measures, met U.S. presidential administration official Michael McFaul, who intended to meet Ponomarev the next day.

Grani-TV: Ponomarev detention

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Russian Duma To Update Antitrust Laws

The FAS announced on Tuesday that the Duma plans to pass a third anti-monopoly package, updating last year's amendments to Russia's competition laws. According to the FAS, "this package is liberal" when compared to the second package adopted last year. The updates will likely include elimination of liability for certain types of parallel price increases, as well as clearer definitions of terms of art such as "cartel".

Prominent Opposition Journalist Found Dead in Belarus

Opposition Journalist Oleg Bebenin was found dead in his dacha (summer house) near Minsk, Belarus, last Friday, September 3, 2010. Bebenin was a founder and director of the major opposition Internet portal He also was one of the key figures in the election team of the oppositionist Andrey Sannikov, who is a candidate in the up-coming Presidential Elections. Reportedly, Bebenin hung himself, but his colleagues do not believe that he committed suicide. At the same time, some experts emphasize that the President of Belarus, Alexander Lukashenko, is highly interested in refraining from any events that would lead to political unrest on the eve of the Presidential elections.

Monday, September 6, 2010

Kyrgyzstan Declares Economic Amnesty

Kyrgyzstan interim president Roza Otunbayeva signed a decree permitting officials of former governments who committed certain economic crimes to avoid criminal prosecution if they “voluntarily compensate” the state for the damage they inflicted. The amount of the damage to be compensated is determined by a special-purpose commission.

Moldovan Referendum Fails

Only about 30% of eligible voters took part in the constitutional referendum in Moldova, which falls below the 33% minimum required for the referendum to be valid. The referendum was supposed to unblock the current political deadlock by introducing direct elections for the Moldovan presidency. The Moldovan parliament, which under the current Constitution elects the President, has been unable to elect one.

Saturday, September 4, 2010

New Talks To Begin with Bulgaria for Russian-Kazakh Oil Pipeline

Transneft continues efforts to talk to Bulgaria about an oil pipeline that would take Russian and Kazakh gas through Bulgaria and Greece. Concerns over environmental impacts related to laying the pipeline along Bulgaria’s coastline, a tourist destination, were recently discussed. Bulgaria plans to put together a team of experts to explore the pipeline proposal.

Latynina Wonders About Bout’s Connection to Russian Government

In a recent opinion article in the Moscow Times, Yulia Latynina says many questions remain about accused arms dealer Viktor Bout's connection to the Russian government. Bout is currently detained in Thailand and is about to be extradited to the United States. Russia opposes Bout's extradition and Latynina wonders whether the United States is partly motivated by a desire to question Bout on his ties with high-ranking Russian officials. Questions still surround where Bout would have obtained 100 Russian anti-aircraft missiles to sell to Colombian guerilla group FARC, as alleged by the United States.

St. Petersburg to Sell Bonds

The head of St. Petersburg’s Finance Committee said the city plans to sell bonds this year. This would be the first sale of bonds since 2005. Overall the municipal government plans to sell 10 billion rubles ($326 million) worth of bonds by the end of the year. Despite a 29.8 billion ruble surplus during the first half of the year, the city’s plans for $13 billion worth of infrastructure projects have been delayed due to the economic downturn.

Lithuania’s Energy Minister Comments on Gazprom

Lithuania’s Energy Minister Arvydas Sekmokas said letters from E. On and Gazprom would not deter Lithuania from opening its energy market to competition. Sekmokas said the tone of the letters from E. On and Gazprom sounded like ultimatums and pressure on small countries by large corporations.

Russian Tech Companies Lobby for Import Ban on Microchips

Sistema and Russian state run company Rusnano are seeking an import ban on microchips. Sistema and Rusnano will partner with STMicroelectronics to produce microchips. A ban would give domestic microchip producers priority in the microchip market, which includes microchips used in various travel devices, pharmaceutical products and archive materials.

Friday, September 3, 2010

Russian Court Re-allows YouTube

A court in Khabarovsk reversed the decision of a lower court in Komsomolsk-on-Amur ordering local internet providers to block user access to on the grounds that the site contains “extremist materials” (referring to a video called “Russia for Russians”). The higher court ruled that the providers should block access only to the pages containing the questionable materials rather than to the whole site.

Ukraine Seeks Review of Russian Gas Prices

Ukraine is seeking a further price reduction from Russia’s Gazprom, claiming that a reduction is needed to prevent an economic disaster. Ukraine is also seeking a deal that would ensure transit volumes through its pipelines to Europe. Russia is currently constructing the Nord Stream and South Stream pipelines, which will bypass Ukraine.

Russian Oil Company Wins $30 Mln (US) Claim against Russian Customs

Major Russian oil company, TNK-BP, won its claim for 1 bln rubles in interest against the Russian Federal Customs Service. In 2004-2006, Customs overcharged the company with export duties (about 4 bln rubles). In 2007, the company asked Customs to return the overpaid amount but the Russian federal agency declined; the money was eventually returned in 2009 following a court order. The amount awarded represents two-years of interest on the overpaid amount.

Chechen President Office Renamed

Following a request from Chechen President Ramzan Kadyrov, the Chechen parliament renamed his office from “President” to “Head of the Republic.” “There must be only one president in the country,” explained Kadyrov, meaning the President of the Russian Federation. Similar decisions are expected to be made soon by other Russian constituencies, the heads of whom are currently called “presidents.”

Thursday, September 2, 2010

Belarus Restricts Buckwheat Exports to Russia

Belarus imposed restrictions on the exportation of buckwheat to Russia, despite the membership of both countries in the recently formed Customs Union. Russian President Dmitri Medvedev called the issue “medical rather than legal” and instructed the responsible vice-premier “to talk to the colleagues.” Currently, Russia experiences serious shortages in the supply of buckwheat caused by an extraordinary draught and aggravated by governmental attempts to press down the retail price through administrative measures.

Freedom of Assembly Demonstration Dispersed in Moscow

On August 31, Moscow opposition activists held their traditional demonstration in support of Article 31 of the Russian Constitution (freedom of assembly). As has happened often in the past, though, the police dispersed the gathering and arrested dozens of demonstrators. European Parliament President Jerzy Buzek expressed concern: "The disproportionate reaction of the Russian police and special forces against the democratic fundamental right of freedom of assembly is worrying.”
(see photos)