Opposition leaders held amid anti-Putin protests

Russian riot police Wednesday arrested top opposition leaders and hundreds of activists who were seeking to stage a protest rally against alleged ballot rigging.

Last Updated: Dec 07, 2011, 11:43 AM IST

Moscow: Russian riot police Wednesday arrested top opposition leaders and hundreds of activists who were
seeking to stage a protest rally against alleged ballot
rigging in favour of Prime Minister Vladimir Putin`s ruling
party during the parliament election.

The authorities have deployed thousands of riot police
and interior troops in the capital in the wake of last night`s
mass rally and demonstration against Prime Minister Putin,
whose United Russia won 238 seats in the 450-seat State
Duma in Sunday`s polls, down sharply from the 315 seats it won
in the last polls in 2007.

Ex-vice premier in Boris Yeltsin cabinet, Boris Nemtsov
and chief of the local chapter of liberal `Yabloko` party
Sergei Mitrokhin have been arrested in down-town Moscow, while
attempting to stage protest rally against alleged ballot
rigging at Sunday`s Duma polls.

ITAR-TASS news agency said Nemtsov, Mitrokhin and others
were arrested while trying to enter a `sanctioned` rally of
five thousand pro-Kremlin `Young Guard` youth group.

Opposition supporters shouted "Shame on you fascists!"
and "Russia without Putin" in a tense stand-off with hundreds
of pro-Kremlin youth who descended on the site in advance.

There is a total black out of the opposition rallies on
the state-controlled TV channels and the liberal websites
remain the only source of information.

However, the government-run RIA Novosti on its English
wire portal showed live webcast of events on the Triumfalnaya
Square (former Mayakovsky Square), the favourite place for
anti-Kremlin opposition.

President Dmitry Medvedev and the Russian Foreign
Ministry have reacted angrily at the US Secretary of State
Hillary Clinton`s criticism of the Duma polls.

She said they were `neither free nor fair`.

PTI