Kasparov arrested in Moscow, now freed

4/14/2007 – Former world chess champion Garry Kasparov, who heads the United Civil Front opposition organization against the Putin government, was trying to attend an oppositional protest rally at Pushkin Square. The government had mobilised 9,000 police to block the march. Update: Kasparov released close to midnight Moscow time after 10 hours of detention. Breaking news.

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BBC News reports: Kasparov arrested at Moscow rally. Police have arrested Russian opposition leader Garry Kasparov at a banned anti-Kremlin rally in central Moscow.He was detained during a huge security operation to prevent opponents of President Putin gathering at Pushkin Square. well as some journalists. More than 9,000 police had been drafted into Moscow to prevent the rally going ahead. The planned march came as Russia warned it wanted the extradition of London-based exile Boris Berezovsky, who told the UK's Guardian newspaper he was plotting "revolution" to overthrow Vladimir Putin.

Interfax Russia: The Moscow city police office has officially confirmed that United Civic Front leader Garry Kasparov has been detained during a protest demonstration in downtown Moscow. "Garry Kimovich [Kasparov] has been detained for committing glaringly provocative actions," a Moscow city police spokesman told Interfax. "Knowing that a rally on Pushkin Square was banned, he came to the square surrounded by his supporters and started to provoke policemen into taking tough measures. In this situation, there was no choice but to detain him and take to a police station to be subjected to precautionary measures," the police spokesman said.

Interfax Russia: The leader of the United Civil Front Garry Kasparov, as well as other eight people, have been escorted from the police department to a court, Karina Moskalenko, a lawyer for Kasparov, told Interfax. Asked why there are being taken to the court, she said: "It is possible that administrative cases will be filed there." Some 38 people have been detained in Tverskaya street, including Kasparov, on Saturday, the lawyer said. "They were detained more than four hours ago, what is a violation of the Russian legislation," she said. It was reported earlier that over 40 people have been staying at the Presnesky police department.

Evening Echo: Kasparov released. 14/04/2007 – 3:55:20 PM: Opposition leader and former world chess champion Garry Kasparov has been released by a Moscow court after detention in connection with a banned demonstration earlier today. [The initial report was incorrect. Kasparov was transferred from the police station to the courthouse, not released. He was released four hours later.]

CNN is reporting that Russian chess champion and opposition activist Garry Kasparov has been detained by police in Moscow as he tried to attend a banned protest march, his aide told Reuters on Saturday. "We wanted to go into the subway (to reach the protest venue) but the police did not let us and he was detained," said Kasparov's spokeswoman Marina Litvinovich. Tens of other people were detained by police, including a Reuters photographer and two members of a Reuters camera crew who were reporting on the planned protest.

AP writer Mike Eckel says: An Associated Press photographer saw Kasparov inside a police van, waving and smiling to journalists clustered outside on the edge of Pushkin Square. Kasparov heads the United Civil Front opposition organization which aimed to hold a massive anti-Kremlin protest march on Saturday. Thousands of police, many of them in helmets and wielding nightsticks, were at the square and scores of people were detained. Many of those detained went quietly, but some struggled and were forced into police vehicles by officers holding nightsticks around the detainees' necks.

Forbes: The weekend marches could be a key test of the Russian opposition's determination before parliamentary and presidential elections – and a test of how harshly police may move to block their actions. If the weekend's protests draw large crowds, they could give momentum to Russia's beleaguered opposition and fuel a long season of demonstrations against the government, which critics say has rolled back democracy. If they founder, it could signal further irrelevancy for the opposition - fractured by years of infighting - as the country moves toward parliamentary elections in December and next year's critical presidential vote.

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