Sunday, March 2, 2014

Thousands Participate in Pro-Putin Rally in Moscow, Hundreds of Anti-War Protesters Arrested

Moscow police Sunday arrested hundreds protesting against military intervention in Ukraine, a rights group said, after President Vladimir Putin won approval from senators to send troops into the crisis-hit country. Ovdinfo, a rights group that tracks arrests at demonstrations, said 352 were detained at two anti-war protests in central Moscow. Police gave a much lower figure of 50 people detained for "attempts to violate public order", the Interfax news agency said. Anti-war protesters gathered near the defence ministry in central Moscow and on Manezhnaya square close to the Kremlin. Demonstrators held up peace signs and posters saying "No to war", while some also held Ukrainian flags and ribbons in the national colours of yellow and light blue. Many people brought to police stations were accused of resisting police orders, which could carry up to 15 days in jail, Ovdinfo said. Dozens were also detained in Saint-Petersburg, after some 500 people staged a protest, an AFP correspondent said. Authorities meanwhile allowed rallies in several cities in support of Putin's policy on intervention, even closing central Moscow boulevards to traffic to allow a march. Moscow police said 20,000 people took part in a pro-war march as television footage showed people walking with Russian flags as well as yellow-and-black nationalist flags and posters with slogans such as "Bravo Putin!" The pro-Kremlin United Russia party posted an invitation to the demonstration on its website, saying Russian speakers were "faced with persecution and violence because they speak Russian and are friendly toward Russia." (video) (video)

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