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Two thousand defy ban on Moscow rock protest

Some 2,000 people today crammed into a Moscow square amid a heavy police presence for a banned rock concert to protest plans to build a motorway through a forest outside the Russian capital.



Moscow: Some 2,000 people today crammed into
a Moscow square amid a heavy police presence for a banned rock
concert to protest plans to build a motorway through a forest
outside the Russian capital.

The numbers were far higher than for past opposition
rallies in Moscow but the concert failed to get off the ground
after police refused to allow amplification gear through tight
security, a news agency correspondent at the scene reported.
However, veteran rocker Yuri Shevchuk, who opposed the
Soviet regime and now the government of Prime Minister
Vladimir Putin, pleased his fans by climbing onto a stepladder
and singing some well-loved songs without a microphone.

Dozens of police vehicles and members of the feared OMON
anti-riot police, equipped with helmets and bullet-proof
vests, thronged the square.

The concert`s aim was to buttress efforts by
environmental activists to oppose the construction of a
highway through Khimki forest outside Moscow, which has become
a symbol for Russians fighting for their rights.

While the demonstration on Pushkin Square against the
construction of the road had been sanctioned by the Moscow
authorities, they had explicitly banned the holding of a
concert.

"We came to make beautiful speeches and sing beautiful
songs. But we have a problem," Artemi Troitski, one of the
organisers, told AFP.

"The sound equipment is in the car over there and the
security forces are not allowing it to come on the square."

Several opposition activists were detained ahead of the
rally, including prominent campaigner Lev Ponomaryov,
officials said.

Another 20 activists, including Mikhail Shneider of
opposition movement Solidarnost and ex-government minister
Boris Nemtsov, were also detained in an earlier protest as
they tried to carry a Russian flag in central Moscow to
celebrate the official Flag Day holiday.

However, veteran rocker Yuri Shevchuk, who opposed the
Soviet regime and now the government of Prime Minister
Vladimir Putin, pleased his fans by climbing onto a stepladder
and singing some well-loved songs without a microphone.

Dozens of police vehicles and members of the feared OMON
anti-riot police, equipped with helmets and bullet-proof
vests, thronged the square.

The concert`s aim was to buttress efforts by
environmental activists to oppose the construction of a
highway through Khimki forest outside Moscow, which has become
a symbol for Russians fighting for their rights.

While the demonstration on Pushkin Square against the
construction of the road had been sanctioned by the Moscow
authorities, they had explicitly banned the holding of a
concert.

"We came to make beautiful speeches and sing beautiful
songs. But we have a problem," Artemi Troitski, one of the
organisers, told AFP.

"The sound equipment is in the car over there and the
security forces are not allowing it to come on the square."

Several opposition activists were detained ahead of the
rally, including prominent campaigner Lev Ponomaryov,
officials said.

Another 20 activists, including Mikhail Shneider of
opposition movement Solidarnost and ex-government minister
Boris Nemtsov, were also detained in an earlier protest as
they tried to carry a Russian flag in central Moscow to
celebrate the official Flag Day holiday.

"The problem is that -- for one reason or another -- the
authorities are scared of people with guitars," Shevchuk told
AFP as he arrived for the rally, clutching his guitar.

The Khimki forest northwest of Moscow is a "symbol of the
civic struggle against the arbitrariness of the state," he
added.

Shevchuk in May had openly challenged Putin telling him
at a face-to-face meeting that Russia was being ruled by
"dukes and princes with sirens on their cars" and
demonstrations are broken up by "repressive" security
services.

PTI

From Zee News

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