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13 Aug, 2019 10:37

Senator slams Moscow police for using ‘excessive force’ to break up unsanctioned protests

Senator slams Moscow police for using ‘excessive force’ to break up unsanctioned protests

A Russian senator and a former riot police commander said officers acted unprofessionally and used “excessive force” against protesters at unsanctioned rallies in Moscow.

Thousands of people have participated in several protests in Moscow in recent weeks, rallying against what they believe is the unfair treatment of several opposition candidates, which were barred from running in the upcoming city council election. Some of the demonstrations were unsanctioned and led to scuffles with police, and subsequent arrests.

More than 1,000 people were detained at an unsanctioned protest on July 27. Senator Vyacheslav Markhayev called this development “scary.” A police veteran and a member of the Communist Party, he had led an anti-riot unit in the past in the eastern Buryatia region. He also served several tours in Chechnya during an armed conflict there.

Markhayev did not mince his words in criticizing police, whose actions to disperse the rallies prompted allegations of police brutality. Instead of “dialogue” with protesters, the city’s authorities “chose to use force, which in many cases was excessive,” he said.

“As a former special police unit commander, I believe the actions of the forces tasked with upholding the public order [in Moscow] were unlawful and professionally incompetent.”

Also on rt.com Moscow woman seeks charges against police officer who ‘punched her’ during protest

There were reports of violence from both sides, as sporadic skirmishes broke out during the demonstrations. Some protesters were accused of throwing stones, bottles, and trash bins at the officers, as well as resisting arrest. The activists, meanwhile, say police injured people with batons and acted unnecessarily rough when pinning unarmed protesters to the ground.

Particular attention has been drawn to the case of Darya Sosnovskaya, a young woman who filed a police brutality report after being detained. An officer was filmed apparently punching her in the stomach as she was being dragged across the street to a police van. The video has since gone viral and sparked an outcry and calls to identify the officer in question.

On Monday, Moscow police had launched an internal investigation into the incident.

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