Chess Champion Kasparov's oppositional gambit

12/17/2006 – Garry Kasparov led a coalition of Russian politicians Saturday in an anti-government rally in Moscow. Hundreds of police turned out to surround about 2,000 demonstrators, opposition activists were pulled off buses and trains and detained without explanation. European and international news if full of the story. Excerpts, videos and links.

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Garry Kasparov, the legendary former world chess champion, gave up competitive chess in March 2005 and turned his attention to politics, mainly in his native Russia. He created the United Civil Front, a social movement whose main goal is to prevent Russia from returning to totalitarianism. He has become one of the most prominent (and also most outspoken) members of a growing oppositional movement in his country, one that has been completely suppressed in the state-controlled media.

Last Sunday Kasparov was invited to take part in a discussion on national German television, but his participation was cancelled when Russian authorities brought pressure on the hosting ARD production company. Der Spiegel and many other news outlets reported on this scandal, which has led to the host of the show, Sabine Christiansen, to come under widespread criticism for siding with the Russian government to silence dissident voices even outside Russia. ARD has in the meantime broadcast a number of reports on Kasparov and his protest movement. We bring you two examples.

Both the above reports are in German. If they do not appear automatically in your browser window you can select a player and bandwidth below and click "Video starten" to replay it in an external player. There was an interesting report in CNN International, which we are trying to obtain. We will insert it here when we receive it.

International news

On Sunday evening there were over 300 news stories on the oppositional rally in Moscow, all reporting on Kasparov's participation. Here are a few links to follow:

CBC News, Canada: Chess giant Kasparov leads anti-Putin rally
Former world chess champion Garry Kasparov led a coalition of left and right-wing Russian politicians Saturday in an anti-government rally in Moscow. Hundreds of police turned out to surround about 2,000 demonstrators calling for free elections next year in what the protesters say is an increasingly authoritarian regime.Ahead of the rare rally, authorities pulled hundreds of opposition activists off buses and trains and detained them along with scores of others, in many cases without explanation, organizers claimed.

Newsday: Moscow cops can't stop Rally
Russian authorities pulled hundreds of opposition activists off buses and trains and detained them along with scores of others yesterday ahead of a rare anti-government rally in Moscow, organizers said. The police action did not prevent more than 2,000 people from gathering in a central square, where leftist and liberal groups demanded Russian President Vladimir Putin stop what they called Russia's retreat from democracy. Garry Kasparov, the former chess grand master who has emerged as one of the Kremlin's most prominent critics, said the mere fact that the rally took place made it a success, given the efforts by authorities to stop it.

CNN: Moscow sees rare opposition rally
More than 2,000 people held a rare anti-government rally in Moscow on Saturday, accusing the Kremlin of growing authoritarianism and protesting against electoral law changes. Authorities, however, pulled opposition activists off buses and trains, and hundreds were detained to prevent them from attending, activists said. The demonstrators chanted "Freedom" and held banners reading "No to Police State" and "Russia Without Putin."

Guardian Unlimited : Hundreds detained ahead of anti-Moscow rally
Russian authorities pulled hundreds of opposition activists off buses and trains and detained them along with scores of others today ahead of a rare anti-government rally in Moscow. "In 15 months political power will be changed," said Mikhail Kasyanov, a former prime minister who is now an opposition leader, referring to the March 2008 presidential election. "Next year everyone should make a personal decision about what to do with our country — whether we allow these people to continue their illegal undertakings ... or we finally make our main goal to build a democratic and socially oriented state," Kasyanov told demonstrators. Garry Kasparov, the former chess grand master who has emerged as one of the Kremlin's most prominent critics, said the mere fact that the rally took place made it a success, given the efforts by authorities to stop it. "We are protesting and it means that authorities are not as monolithic and powerful as they believe", he said. "They are afraid that one day we will tell them 'enough.'"

Fox: Anti-Government Protest in Moscow

Pictures from the rally



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