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4 Dec, 2011 15:56

Smoke grenades and arrests mar Election Day

Opposition supporters set off several smoke grenades in Moscow downtown to protest the on-going elections to Russian Duma. Police replied with over a hundred of arrests.

The police had been anticipating unsanctioned rallying and met the distressed youth in full force: over 20 police buses and cars as well as dozens of interior troops’ trucks jammed into the square not far from the Russia’s Ministry of Economic Development.But demonstrators were not even 10 minutes into chanting “Shame!” when the first arrest occurred, as several smoke grenades were set off by the rally. The protesters also tried to block pavements and roads and eventually turned the action into a sitting protest.The angry crowd comprised some 300 opposition supporters, with almost 200 correspondents having gathered for the event. More than 100 people were arrested, reports RIA Novosti news agency.The opposition doubts the legitimacy of the on going parliamentary elections as several non-mainstream parties failed to join the election race, not having been cleared by the Central Election Commission.Prior to that, in another square right below the Kremlin walls, a group of some 30 people had been throwing leaflets and shouting “Elections without opposition is a crime!” After several warnings the police detained at least 12 of them, reports RIA Novosti news agency.

Over 70 opposition supporters have also been arrested in the center of St. Petersburg. The police cite “unsanctioned rallying” and “disobedience to law enforcers.”Rallying and campaigning is forbidden in Russia on election days.