More than 800 people participated in a regular rally held by Russian communists to protest the creation of a NATO transit hub in the Volga city of Ulyanovsk, birthplace of Vladimir Lenin, on Saturday, a local interior affairs department official said.
Members of the country’s Communist Party from different regions, including the parliamentary faction led by party’s leader Gennady Zyuganov, gathered in the city’s downtown on Saturday afternoon to hold the rally. Supporters of A Just Russia Party as well as activists of the Left Front Movement and The Other Russia independent news web-site took part in the rally and the following march.
The Kremlin’s intention to allow NATO to set up a hub for Afghan transit operations in the Volga region city of Ulyanovsk has triggered mass protests amid claims the deal would undermine Russia’s national interests and security.
The Russian authorities have repeatedly dismissed concerns over the deployment of a NATO transit hub in the middle of the country claiming it would involve only the transport of non-lethal cargoes, which would be subject to customs checks.
After the march ended at the Lenin square in the city center, the protesters broke a cardboard “NATO” tank with sticks as a demonstration act and then laid flowers at the monument of Lenin in honor of the 142nd anniversary of his birth, which will be celebrated on April 22.
Left Front leader Sergei Udaltsov told RIA Novosti that he was detained by local policemen after the rally.
“When the rally ended, I and my friends were going to a hotel to hold a press conference about our future plans. But police officers came up and told me … a woman filed a complaint that I inflicted bodily injuries to her,” Udaltsov said.
The left-wing leader was “invited to the police office to give explanations concerning the application from the woman on the fact of injury,” the local interior affairs department official told RIA Novosti without mentioning any other details about the injuries.
“Now Udaltsov is in the local police office. It is unknown how long he will stay there, maybe, until we clarify all circumstances of the case,” the official added.