Garry Kasparov marches on

3/5/2007 – 2000 protesters were announced, over 5000 turned up. They were confronted by 3000 riot police, over 100 were beaten and detained. This biggest protest rally against the current regime in Russia was organized by former chess world champion Garry Kasparov and former Russian prime minister Mikhail Kasyanov. The movement is growing.

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Here are three of almost 300 (at the time of writing) international reports on the opposition rally. More are bound to appear as Kasparov undertakes a media tour which includes articles and interviews in major Western magazines and TV talk shows. For the first time he is not rejecting as completely out of hand the possibility of running for President in next year's elections.

New York Times, March 4, 2007
An unusually large and unruly protest against the government of President Vladimir V. Putin ended here Saturday in clashes with the police and the arrest of opposition leaders. Rally organizers and the police said more than 100 people were arrested after a midafternoon scuffle between marchers and riot police on the main street, Nevsky Prospekt, in the heart of the city’s tourist district. St. Petersburg, Russia’s second-largest city, is Mr. Putin’s hometown. The rally was held in advance of local elections scheduled for March 11. Two leaders of what is left of Russia’s liberal opposition, Garry Kasparov, the former chess champion, and Mikhail A. Kasyanov, a former prime minister, spoke to the crowd. “This is our first real victory,” Mr. Kasparov, speaking over a bullhorn, told the crowd on the muddy street, surrounded by rows of police. “I congratulate you for overcoming your fear. We will have victory when we get our Russia back. We have 364 days before the election in 2008.” Minutes after Mr. Kasparov spoke and left the area, the police broke up the crowd, first arresting the speaker who had taken Mr. Kasparov’s place.

CNN International, March 3, 2007
Police clubbed protesters and dragged them into waiting buses on Saturday in response to a defiant demonstration against the Kremlin in the heart of President Vladimir Putin's hometown. Several thousand members of liberal and leftist groups chanted "Shame!" as they marched down St. Petersburg's main avenue to protest what they said was Russia's rollback from democracy. Riot police beat dozens of protesters with truncheons, but several thousand broke through police cordons. Several activists attacked a law enforcement officer. Between 20 and 30 people were detained, the ITAR-Tass news agency reported, citing police officials. Garry Kasparov, a former world chess champion who helped organize the event, said on Ekho Moskvy radio that the participants numbered up to 6,000, though the crowd appeared to be about half that number.

Kommersant, March 5, 2007
The opposition coalition of The Other Russia ultimately succeeded in St. Petersburg after the December failure in Moscow. Roughly 5,000 marched down the city’s main Nevsky Avenue in the March of the Discontented Saturday. More than 100 were beaten and detained during this public event of opposition, which the St. Petersburg authorities called “the provocation funded by Berezovsky and Khodorkovsky,” and to which the leaders of The Other Russia referred as the stunning success. At least 5,000 took part in the event instead of 2,000 promised by the opposition. They faced 3,000 officers of police and riot police summoned up from St. Petersburg, Karelia, Pskov and Vladimir.


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