A noisy rally by supporters of Mikhail Khodorkovsky outside the court ended in a brawl Monday, with police detaining 28 people, including Yabloko deputy head Sergei Mitrokhin, and beating former chess champion Garry Kasparov with batons. About 300 people – a mix of children, students, middle-aged adults and pensioners – rallied outside the Meshchansky District Court. The protesters chanted, "Down with the FSB authorities! Freedom for Khodorkovsky and bread and water for Putin," "Putin is not Russia, we are!" and "Freedom! Freedom!"
OMON riot police then arrived, and officers began to drag a few of the protesters toward police buses. OMON officers also attempted to detain Kasparov, who heads the liberal Committee-2008 opposition group, and beat him with batons when he refused to go with them to a police bus.
"People were simply standing on the sidewalk, not hindering traffic or pedestrians," Kasparov told Ekho Moskvy radio later Monday. "The OMON were deployed against peaceful, unarmed people. People were pulled out of the crowd and beaten up. ... Those who organized this carnage must be arrested."
Shortly before the clash, Kasparov said the rally showed that public discontent was growing. "There is not yet the critical mass needed for an uprising like the one in Kiev, " Kasparov said. "But the people here today and the fact that the police are trying to round them up shows that the powers-that-be are afraid."
The German national TV channel ARD Tagesschau captured video footage of Kasparov being grabbed and pinned by the riot police.
The Dutch TV channel NOS reported from the protest gathering and the actions of the riot police. The story contains a short interview with Kasparov.
Video footage from NOS Dutch TV (with a short interview with Kasparov)