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3 Mar, 2008 19:39

Police disperse anti-Medvedev rally

Russian riot police have clashed with small groups of protesters who tried to gather in Moscow for an unauthorised opposition rally. Activists lit flares spreading smoke across the square in central Moscow.

The rally organised by the Other Russia united opposition was not permitted by city authorities. Anyone attempting to protest against Sunday’s presidential election result ended up in detention.

More than 300 riot police, sometimes using batons, detained dozens of activists and dragged protesters to police buses.

Hundreds of journalists were at the scene, but it was the western press that became the darlings of the crowds. When asked to share their opinion with Russian TV, they refused.

“No way will I talk to you. No a chance. I know what you will do with my words,” said a man when asked to give a comment to RT.

The few dozen protesters disappeared in red smoke, leaving behind a lot of police officers and a lot of journalists, each waiting for the others to leave.

In St. Petersburg around 300 people have taken part in an authorised opposition rally dubbed ‘March of Dissent’.

The rally was attended by the Other Russia Coalition leader Garry Kasparov. The protesters marched along the city's central streets. No incidents or violence have been reported.

Medvedev supporters celebrate

However, the protesters have been outnumbered by supporters of Dmitry Medvedev who won the election on March 2.

Nearly 50,000 representatives of Russian youth movements rallied on the streets of Moscow on Monday,with more than 3,000 policemen on hand to maintain order.

The apparent landslide victory of Dmitry Medvedev in the presidential election is viewed by these youngsters as their own. Their slogans, banners and songs all repeat the same motto: “we have chosen our future.”

The pro-Kremlin Nashi youth movement drew a large gathering outside the U.S. Embassy in Moscow. They were protesting against U.S. foreign policy, as well as celebrating the victory of Dmitry Medvedev.

Some of the banners repeated Medvedev’s quote: “If I’m entrusted to run the country, I’ll be obliged to continue its political course”.

“We believe we have a civil society, we have democracy in our country – and we have to develop it further, so we can be proud of Russia,” Aleksandr Salnikov, the commissar of the Nashi movement says.

They certainly speak with conviction, but their words do have a touch of adolescent zeal. Critics have called them 'loudspeakers of Kremlin propaganda' and some have even suggested they do more damage with their statements than good.

But despite all that, members of the various youth movements continue to celebrate what they believe is Russia's way forward.

Another youth movement, Mestnye, held a demonstration in support of Medvedev. It was nothing more than a celebration and an opportunity to say they were proud of their choice.

Yet one more youth movement, Young Russia, held the rally under the slogan “Russia – Onward!” The marchers were waving flags and chanting: “We Will Stand beside Our Country!”