Russian police detain opposition leader

Police prevented about 100 opposition activists from marching through Moscow with a giant Russian flag and detained two of their leaders, including prominent politician Boris Nemtsov.

Updated: Aug 22, 2010, 21:11 PM IST

Moscow: Police prevented about 100 opposition
activists from marching through Moscow on Sunday with a giant
Russian flag and detained two of their leaders, including
prominent politician Boris Nemtsov.

The opposition activists were celebrating Flag Day, a
holiday honoring the tricolour flag adopted by a newly
democratic Russia when the Soviet Union collapsed.

Nemtsov said the decision to stop a march honouring the
Russian flag showed the mentality of Prime Minister Vladimir
Putin`s government.

"The flag is a symbol of freedom and democracy, only not
for Putin," Nemtsov said, speaking to The Associated Press
from a city police precinct.

The date for the holiday was chosen to celebrate the
defeat of a hardline communist coup on Aug 22, 1991. Boris
Yeltsin, who famously climbed onto a tank to lead the
resistance against the coup plotters, turned the flag into a
symbol of an independent Russia.

When the Soviet Union ceased to exist on Dec 25 of that
year, the white, blue and red flag was raised over the
Kremlin.

Nemtsov accused Putin, a former KGB officer, of sharing
the mentality of the coup plotters, who were determined to
prevent the democratisation of the Soviet Union.

Putin did not support the coup plotters at the time, but
as president he lamented the demise of the Soviet Union and
rolled back many of the democratic reforms that Yeltsin had
introduced.

PTI