Kasparov cleared of charges of participating in illegal rally

Updated: Aug 25, 2012, 16:21 PM IST

Moscow: Former world chess champion Garry Kasparov, a strong critic of Russian President Vladimir Putin, has been acquitted by a court here of charges of taking part in an unauthorised protest rally.

49-year-old Kasparov was detained on August 17 with several other opposition activists outside the Moscow court where three members of the feminist punk band Pussy Riot were sentenced last week to two years in prison over an anti-Putin protest in the Russian capital`s largest church.

Soon after he was cleared yesterday of charges of participating in an unauthorised rally in support of Pussy Riot, Kasparov described the ruling as an "important victory" which would "send a signal" to other courts, Ria Novosti reported today.

During the rally, he was violently held and thrown by the riot police into a van, where he was allegedly beaten.

Critics of President Putin have frequently been convicted of protest-related charges. Kasparov himself spent five days in jail for his participation in an unsanctioned rally in 2007.

Judge Yekaterina Veklich said yesterday that there were "no grounds to believe the testimony of the police."

Kasparov could still face criminal charges over a police officer`s allegations that the opposition leader bit his finger while he was being detained.