Russian police arrest opposition activists at New Year’s Eve protest

About 25 people were reported to have been arrested in Moscow on Monday for trying to hold an unsanctioned protest.

The gathering at Triumfalnaya Square in central Moscow on New Year‘s Eve attracted 50 to 100 people. Among those arrested was Eduard Limonov, a prominent radical writer and opposition leader of the Other Russia movement. The Interfax news agency cited activists as saying about 25 people were taken into custody.

For about two years, the Strategy 31 movement has held unauthorised protests on the last day of every month with 31 days – a reference to article 31 of the Russian constitution, which guarantees free assembly. Authorities routinely deny permission for the demonstrations. Limonov’s faction has fallen out with other elements of the wave of opposition to President Vladimir Putin that arose last year.

In his New Year’s Eve address, Putin made no reference to the protests of the past year, saying only of 2012 that “it was very important to us,” according to the Itar-Tass news agency.

“We believe that we can change the life around us and become better ourselves, that we can become more heedful, compassionate, gracious,” he was quoted as saying.

Putin added that Russia’s fate “depends on our enthusiasm and labour”.

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