Garry Kasparov: 'We will march!'

12/14/2006 – A Russian anti-terror hit team raided the offices of the oppositional "United Civil Front" in Moscow. It's founder, Garry Kasparov, was removed from a German TV news discussion, at the behest of Russian authorities. Things are looking dangerous for the former world chess champion, who will participate in a "March of the Dissidents" on Saturday. Spiegel Online.

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"We will march!"

Spiegel Online interview with Garry Kasparov

Spiegel Online: The office of your United Civil Front was searched yesterday by police. How come?

Garry Kasparov: I was at the national congress of our coalition "The other Russia", when ten or eleven people of the counterterrorist unit of the Moscow police came into the office of the United Civil Front. They showed a search warrant, which our lawyer later identified as false, they locked our staff members in the office and forced them to switch off their mobile phones. They claimed we were engaged in "extremist activities". It is the first time that they use this term against a major opposition group.

Spiegel Online: What are these supposed "extremist activities"?

Kasparov: You know, extremism is a broad term in the minds of Russian government officials. Our office is used by the commitee that organizes the "March of the dissidents" on Saturday. We expect 3000 participants. It is a broad coalition for freedom of press, social and political rights. In the office we keep promotion material, flyer and newspapers. The police confiscated some material to analyse it for "extremist content" - on the day of the Russina constitution.

Spiegel Online: The authorities prohibited your march with the argument that it disturbs the traffic. Instead, they want you to hold a stationary vigil.

Kasparov: We will march. According to the law, they can only change the route, but not the format of a demonstration. We will bring our papers to court today. The traffic argument is a lame excuse. On Sunday, almost the entire garden ring will be closed for a demonstration of the Kremlin youth organisation Naschi.

Spiegel Online: What happens if the police don't let you march?

Kasparov: We expect that the Moscow authorities are conscious of the grave consequences, should they try to prevent our march.

Spiegel Online: Last Sunday, you were invited to "Christiansen", two days before you were disinvited. The production firm says there were technical problems. Why don't you believe that?

Kasparov: I cannot tell you that they didn't have technical problems. But I simply cannot believe that a major German TV station cannot solve such problems within 48 hours.

Spiegel Online: You have said that you believe that the Russian Ambassador in Germany put pressure on the "Christiansen" people. How do you know that?

Kasparov: Ask the people in the Moscow ARD studio.

Spiegel Online: You are referring to former ARD correspondent Klaus Bednarz. Citing a staff member of Christiansen, he said to the FAZ: "The Russian Ambassador refused to be in front of the camera with Kasparov."

Kasparov: I don't know how they select the guests for the talkshow. But it strikes me that there were no critics of Mr. Putin. That upsets me because those programs are the only chance for us to confront the Russian government.

Spiegel Online: The "Christiansen" people say you are always a welcome guest. In March you are invited again, when you are on book tour in Germany. Are you going to come?

Kasparov: I hear that for the first time. I would like to come, but first I want to see the invitation.

Other articles on Kasparov's boycott by German TV (in German)



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