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31 Jan, 2010 17:50

Over 100 unauthorized rally activists detained in Moscow

Russian police have detained over 100 participants of an unauthorized rally in Moscow to defend Article 31 of the Constitution. The article guarantees the freedom of gatherings.

“On Sunday, opposition representatives attempted to hold an unauthorized rally,” the head of the Moscow police information and PR department, Victor Biriukov, told Interfax.

“As a result, police have had to detain the most active participants, who held banners and called out anti-government slogans,” he added.

According to Biriukov, the number of protesters totaled about 300 people, of which 150 were journalists. Russian politician Boris Nemtsov and human rights activists Lev Ponomaryov and Oleg Orlov were among those detained. About 50 of them, including Nemtsov and the opposition activist Eduard Limonov, were released by the morning.

According to Limonov, the leader of the Moscow Helsinki group, Lyudmila Alekseeva, and the representative of the Left Front organization, Konstantin Kosyakin, had earlier applied to Moscow city authorities to allow them to hold the rally on the square on January 31.

However, city authorities declined the request as another event, called Winter Plays, was scheduled at the site on that date. They offered protesters to gather at other sites in the center of the city.

Opposition activists, in turn, filed a law suit claiming that in 2009 they were refused the opportunity to rally on the square five times.

The previous unauthorized attempt took place on December 31 and also resulted in the detention of the participants.