Russian nationalists stage rally in downtown Moscow

Russian nationalist movements gathered on Sunday for an authorized rally in the center of Moscow.

Most of the 250 nationalists who came to the rally on Bolotnaya Square – the site of a massive protest on Saturday against alleged electoral fraud at last week’s parliamentary polls – were young people with scarves and medical masks hiding their faces. The rally participants were holding imperial flags. The square was sealed off by the police.

“The event started at 2:00 p.m. Moscow time (10:00 GMT) and is being attended by 300 people, of whom about 50 are media representatives covering the event,” the Moscow police press service said.

A year ago, a rally to mark the fatal shooting of Spartak Moscow fan Yegor Sviridov turned violent in the center of Moscow after 5,000 football fans and nationalists went on a rampage and called for the death of Russia’s migrant population.

A small nationalist picket was held earlier on Sunday in Pushkinskaya Square in Moscow. The organizers were collecting signatures for the bill on the rights of the Russian people. The picket, which was authorized by the City Hall, lasted about 40 minutes.

On Saturday, tens of thousands of people streamed into Bolotnaya Square in central Moscow to demand a rerun of last weekend’s parliamentary polls and vent their anger at Prime Minister Putin and his United Russia party.

Demonstrations against alleged electoral fraud in favor of the pro-Kremlin United Russia took place across the country on Saturday, from the European exclave of Kaliningrad to Vladivostok on the Pacific coast. Some 7,000 people rallied in Russia’s second city of St. Petersburg, police said.

But by far the biggest show of dissent took place in Moscow, where police said around 25,000 people gathered peacefully in driving sleet at Bolotnaya Square, a short walk from the Kremlin. Organizers put the crowd at nearer to 40,000. There were no arrests, police said.


Man stabs eight people in northeast Moscow

Police detained a man who stabbed eight people in northeast Moscow on Friday afternoon, a police spokesman said.

“The number of victims has increased to eight. All of them have been taken to hospitals in Moscow,” the spokesman said.

In addition to the stabbing victims, one five-year-old boy received medical treatment for shock after witnessing the attack.

One severely wounded women was taken to clinical hospital #20 in northeast Moscow. Hospital authorities there declined to comment on her condition.



Peaceful Rally’s Held all over Russia…

Peaceful Rally’s Held all over Russia…

Masses of people in a dozen or so Russian cities turned out for rallies on Saturday to challenge the official results of Russia’s latest legislative elections last Sunday.

The biggest rally took place in Moscow, between approximately 14.30 and 18.00 Moscow time, in the capital’s Bolotnaya Square located across the river from the Kremlin. According to Moscow police officials, it attracted about 25 thousand people. The organizers, however, estimate the number to be more like 60 thousand.

The people who had mistakenly gathered in Revolution Square, which had initially been chosen for a venue, were politely escorted to Bolotnaya by police officers.

National Human Rights Ombudsman Vladimir Lukin praised the organization of the Moscow rally:

“I am fully satisfied. The police are very civilized. They have cleared a pedestrian passage to Bolotnaya and also laid on buses for travelling there. No brutality or irregularity anywhere in evidence. This is really good.”

According to the Voice of Russia reporter Polina Chernitsa, not every speaker appearing on the podium proved welcome on the floor:

“The speakers included newly elected opposition lawmakers from the Communists and from the Just Russia party. Some in the crowd shouted out their support, while others urged these lawmakers to leave Bolotnaya and resign.”

Former Prime Minister Mikhail Kasyanov even attracted catcalls, boos and whistles when he appeared on the podium.

The rally called for a recount or fresh elections and also for the resignation of the head of the National Electoral Commission Vladimir Churov. Experts believe the former request can be partially granted, and recounts at polling stations where irregularities have been found are quite possible. The fate of Vladimir Churov, however, is a more difficult issue.

We have an opinion from Russian political analyst Dr Alexei Makarkin:

“Indeed, his performance is nothing short of a catastrophe. He may be forced to resign, but not now. A total ballot recount, as was requested by the opposition, is also unlikely, because it would interfere with preparations for the next presidential elections in March. The opposition will do its utmost to contest the presidency, provided it will agree on a single candidate for the top job.”

Bolotnaya was the biggest opposition protest in many years. For the first time, the opposition showed organization and articulated demands. Russian analyst Dr Alexei Mukhin also expects the Bolotnaya rally to bear fruit:

“The rallies and marches of the 1990s, although noisy and frequent, were largely fruitless. Rallies and marches now are a productive tool of political dialogue between civil society and the government. In 2012, they are likely to become even more productive.”

Dr Makarkin sees signs of Russia’s civil society coming of age:

“The prophecies of doom and gloom have flopped. The opposition did not rush to storm the Kremlin. Nor did the police make charges, with batons or any other weapons. The opposition and the authorities appear to have learnt lessons on how to conduct a peaceful dialogue.”

Executives of the governing United Russia party, which won a convincing parliamentary majority on Sunday, have told reporters that their party supports the freedom of expression and hopes that Saturday’s rallies will receive adequate coverage in the media and the message they send will be brought home to the authorities.

There were only about 50 arrests on Saturday. All took place in the Far Eastern city of Khabarovsk, where opposition supporters rallied without having obtained an official permission to hold a rally.

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“Love Bridge” unexpectedly dominates news from anti-Putin protests

As protests against the alleged violations during Sunday’s Duma polls continue in Moscow, media reports have focused on the fate of a pedestrian bridge across the Moskva River leading to the protest venue.

Built in 1994 during the tenure of ousted mayor Yury Luzhkov and known as “the love bridge,” the Luzhkov Bridge remained a major security concern of the day that had been expected to dominate headlines with riots and high-profile police arrests.

Police said the bridge could collapse any minute as about 1,000 protesters moving toward the Bolotnaya Square, the site of an authorized rally against the elections that brought Premier Vladimir Putin’s United Russia party the slim majority in the lower house.

“Experts said there is a possibility of it collapsing,” the Moscow police said in a statement.

Russia’s chief architect, Andrei Bokov, said the threat was exaggerated.

“In principle, any bridge is designed with a reserve endurance, that is why it is impossible to say that the bridge can collapse from excessive weight,” Bokov said, adding that the only thing that could cause the bridge to collapse would be an explosion.

Police closed the entry onto the bridge from one end, much to the annoyance of protesters who tried to break through the police cordon, but then the bridge was reopened an hour later.

The elaborately decorated bridge is a favorite site among Tretyakov Picture Gallery goers and newlyweds, who hang “love locks” on a metal “tree of love” in the hope for a long-lasting and stable marriage.


Moscow police seal off central square as opposition to rally

Police are setting up metal barriers along the perimeter of Triumfalnaya Square in central Moscow as opposition groups are preparing to stage a new unsanctioned rally to protest election fraud, a RIA Novosti correspondent reports.

On Tuesday evening the square saw a rally that drew up to 5,000 people, including both opposition and pro-Kremlin youth groups. More than 300 people were detained while five had to seek medical assistance as a result of a police crackdown.

Meanwhile, around 5,000 people are holding an authorized rally on Pushkin Square, less than a kilometer away, in support of the governing United Russia party, a spokesman for the city Main Internal Affairs Administration said.

Reinforced police patrols are on standby to ensure security.

Police have detained about 900 people over two nights of protests against alleged fraud in Sunday’s parliamentary elections in which Prime Minister Vladimir Putin’s United Russia party won a much reduced majority.


On Tuesday, a Moscow court sentenced anti-regime blogger Alexei Navalny to 15 days in jail for disobeying police orders during Monday’s protest. Ilya Yashin, leader of the opposition Solidarity movement, was also jailed for 15 days.


Moscow police investigate British travel writer’s death

The death of British travel writer Colin Adams in a brawl with a bartender at a Moscow hotel on Sunday was possibly caused by a head injury sustained in a fall onto furniture, a police source said on Monday.


Adams, 70, died early on Sunday in a fight with a 21-year-old barman at the Kosmos hotel in downtown Moscow. The barman reportedly shoved Adams, who fell and hit his head on furniture.


“It is still unknown what caused the brawl, but witness accounts and security camera tapes indicate that the author of travel books died about 30 minutes after he hit a piece of furniture,” the source said.


A preliminary investigation is underway, while the suspect has been released on his own recognizance until the experts confirm the cause of death.


Adams is best known for his The Mountain Walker’s Guide to Wales (1991). He was reportedly on a trip to Russia to find inspiration for a new book.


Luzhkov’s brother-in-law charged with fraud

Russian businessman Viktor Baturin, the brother-in-law of former Moscow mayor Yury Luzhkov, was charged with attempted fraud on Tuesday, a police spokesman said.

Baturin was detained in Moscow on Monday. Investigators said he demanded payment of 10.8 million rubles ($344,000) from his billionaire sister’s company Inteko under a fake promissory note.

“The suspect said he was aware that the note was forged and said he received the document from his sister. He also had two similar notes at home,” the Moscow Police Department’s press office said. “Baturin was charged with attempted fraud.”

The investigators said they would request to put Baturin into a pre-trial detention facility as he currently serves a suspended sentence.

In early June this year, Baturin, the brother of property construction tycoon Yelena Baturina, received a suspended three-year jail term for fraud. He was found guilty of selling one property in downtown Moscow to two men for $857,000 and $1.5 million within the space of one month in 2008.

The Presnensky district court also fined Baturin $10,800 in damages.

Uzbek Citizen Arrested In Moscow For Murders

Moscow police have arrested an Uzbek migrant worker in connection with the murder of a Kazakh woman and her one-year-old son, RFE/RL’s Uzbek Service reports.

The bodies of the Kazakh citizen, 28, and her son were found by local residents in the town of Povedniki near Moscow on November 9. Both bodies bore signs of violence.

Mikhail Anisimov, who heads the investigative department at the Mytishchi district investigative committee, told RFE/RL on November 14 that Boburmirzo Soliev, 18, a migrant worker from Uzbekistan, was arrested and has confessed to the killings.

The investigators say that the woman, named Yelena, and her son were killed while out for a walk. She and the suspect reportedly had a heated argument in a local shop before the incident.

The victim, only identified by her first name, came to Moscow from Kazakhstan several years ago to study at a local university and got married as a student.

Read more in Uzbek here

Police detain 20 at opposition rally in Moscow

Police detained about 20 people on Tuesday during the weekly opposition rally in downtown Moscow.


“About 20 people have been detained and sent to the police station,” a police spokesperson said.


Tuesday’s rally, “Elections Without Opposition Is a Crime,” was held on Triumfalnaya Square, a frequent site for opposition gatherings.


A total of 50 people, primarily journalists, gathered at the Square, shouting opposition slogans and distributing leaflets.


Last week’s rally grabbed headlines when police detained a six-year-old boy, the son of opposition activist Sergei Aksyonov.


Moscow police on alert as Russia marks National Unity Day

More than 5,000 policemen will ensure public order and security in the Russian capital on Friday during the celebration of the National Unity Day, a Moscow police spokesman said.


Russia will mark the holiday with Pro-Kremlin, nationalist and opposition rallies across the country, including 18 authorized public events in Moscow alone.


“An operational center will be set up [in Moscow] to ensure security and public order. More than 5,000 police officers will be on duty in the capital,” the official said.


About 10,000 activists and supporters of Russia’s ruling United Russia party will gather on the Poklonnaya Gora for a meeting and a concert.


The Russian nationalists will mark the holiday with their traditional Russian March in southeast Moscow and hold a rally at the Soldier of the Motherland monument.


Up to 3,000 activists of the Liberal Democratic Party of Russia (LDPR) will gather on Pushkin Square in downtown Moscow to call for the unity of Russia and to protest against corruption in the country.


National Unity Day was introduced by the Kremlin in 2005 to replace the communist holiday of November 7 celebrating the 1917 Bolshevik Revolution.


November 4 was chosen as the date of the liberation of Russia from Polish invaders in 1612.


Russian Ultranationalist Leader ‘Warned’ By Police

MOSCOW — The leader of the ultranationalist “Russians” movement says Moscow police have “warned” him on the eve of the so-called “Russian March” on November 4, RFE/RL’s Russian Service reports.

Dmitry Dyomushkin told RFE/RL he was detained early on November 2 by Moscow police, who took him to a police station and urged him to avoid any provocations during the march.

Dyomushkin said up to 20,000 nationalist activists may participate in the rally. The Moscow city authorities have given permission for a maximum participation of 10,000 people.

Police say Dyomushkin was detained in connection with some criminal cases launched against him. They say that in an interview to a news agency in October Dyomushkin “called for mass disorder and expressed his views on the superiority of Russians over other ethnic groups.”

Police released Dyomushkin after he gave a written pledge not to leave Moscow until the investigation into cases against him was complete.

Read more in Russian here

Drunk, naked driver smashes 17 cars in Moscow

A drunk and naked driver lost control during driving in Moscow and smashed a total of 17 cars, including four police vehicles, the Moscow police said on Sunday.

“On Sunday, an unknown man who was drunk and driving a Renault Megan car lost control during driving and damaged several cars. He did not respond to a police demand to stop, after which the police started to chase him,” a police spokesman said.

During the chase, the offender damaged 17 vehicles, including four police patrol vehicles. The police managed to stop him without using their firearms.

When the offender was pulled out of the car, it turned out that the man was naked and heavily drunk, the spokesman said.

An investigation is underway, the spokesman said.


Moscow police confirms detention of State Duma candidate for brawl

Russian police confirmed on Wednesay the detention of a State Duma candidate from the Russian Liberal-Democratic Party (LDPR) after a brawl in central Moscow.

Maxim Pershin, from Vladimir Zhirinovsky’s LDPR, was arrested and taken to the police station on suspicion of assault. The victim was hospitalized but later released. Pershin a medical examination for alcohol intoxication.

The case file will be forwarded to the public prosecutor’s office.

15 Year-Old Takes Tram For a Joyride

15 Year-Old Takes Tram For a Joyride

Published: October 26, 2011 (Issue # 1680)

MOSCOW — Police in a Urals town are investigating an incident in which a teenager commandeered an empty tram and safely drove it for almost an hour.

The 15-year-old stumbled upon the empty tram in the town of Zlatoust while its driver and conductor were out to lunch earlier this month.

The boy drove the tram for about 40 minutes along its normal route, picking up and dropping off passengers. The joyride ended when police switched the tracks, forcing the tram back to the depot, where the boy was apprehended.

Politkovskaya Case Sees New Charges

Politkovskaya Case Sees New Charges

Published: October 12, 2011 (Issue # 1678)

MOSCOW — Russian investigators marked the 5th anniversary of journalist Anna Politkovskaya’s killing on Friday by filing new charges against suspects involved in the slaying, but they have remained silent about who might have ordered her murder.

Politkovskaya, a sharp critic of the Kremlin and its policies in Chechnya, was gunned down in the elevator of her Moscow apartment building on October 7, 2006. The brutal attack drew worldwide attention to violence against journalists in Russia and caused widespread suspicions of government involvement.

Russia’s top investigative body said it’s filing formal charges Friday against Lom-Ali Gaitukayev, a native of Chechnya accused of organizing the killing. It said it will also bring new accusations against the suspected triggerman, Rustam Makhmudov and several other suspects.

Makhmudov’s two brothers and another suspect, former Moscow police officer Sergei Khadzhikurbanov, stood trial on charges of helping stage the killing, but a court found them not guilty in 2009. The Russian Supreme Court overruled the acquittal and has sent the case back to prosecutors. Makhmudov and Gaitukayev — uncle of the Makhmudov brothers — have been detained earlier.

The Investigative Committee said that it will bring new charges Friday against Khadzhikurbanov and the two Makhmudov brothers, Dzhabrail and Ibragim. Khadzhikurbanov has been in custody, while the two Chechen brothers are free but have been requested not to leave town. The Committee had told the public earlier about the accusations against Gaitukayev and others, and today’s statement was a clear attempt to demonstrate a progress in the case.

The investigators also said that Dmitry Pavlyuchenkov, who was a senior police officer at the time of the killing, is accused of tracking down Politkovskaya’s movements to help stage the killing. Pavlyuchenkov, who served as a witness during the abortive first trial, was arrested in August.

Politkovskaya’s Novaya Gazeta newspaper has welcomed the detention of the suspected shooter and other suspects, but lamented slow progress on finding a person who ordered the killing and described Friday’s step as a mere formality. Politkovskaya’s son, Ilya, also criticized authorities for failing to track down the mastermind.

“Five years after we only have suspects accused of staging the killing,” he said, according to RIA Novosti news agency. “It could have been done much earlier. A lot of time has been lost.”

Politkovskaya was killed on the birthday of Vladimir Putin, who was serving his second presidential term at the time. This fact helped fuel speculations about possible involvement of authorities angered by Politkovskaya’s exposure of atrocities in Chechnya.

“She was challenging the dominant power of the government with her lonely efforts,” Novaya Gazeta said on its front-page, which was carrying a photo of Politkovskaya.

Putin made his first public remarks on Politkovskaya’s death a few days after, saying that she had little influence and that her slaying did more harm to Russia than her articles did. Putin, who turned 59 Friday, is now Russia’s prime minister and is all but certain to reclaim presidency in next March’s elections.

Earlier this week, Putin’s spokesman Dmitry Peskov dismissed allegations of possible government involvement in Politkovskaya’s killing in remarks broadcast by independent TV station Dozhd (Rain). “People, are you crazy to associate this with Putin?” he said.

Politkovskaya’s colleagues marked the anniversary of her death by opening a Facebook account dedicated to her memory, posting her pictures, books and favorite music.

Moscow police evacuate hundreds due to suspicious car

Moscow police have evacuated hundreds of people and shut down traffic near Yaroslavsky station due to a suspicious car.

The abandoned car attracted police attention earlier on Thursday. They evacuated people and called rescuers and fire and ambulance crews.

The sappers used a special robot sapper to scan the car. Some reports said the car contained a jar with saltpeter and aluminum powder – together the two elements form a pyrotechnic mixture. However the operation did not reveal any explosive device in the car.

On Wednesday night three blasts rocked Makhachkala, the capital of the Republic of Dagestan in southern Russia, killing five and injuring 60. Two of the bombs were placed in cars.

Yaroslavsky is one of the busiest stations in Moscow. It stands wall-to-wall with another major station, Leningradsky, and just across the square from Kazansky Station. The three stations comprise the busiest transport hub in the Russian capital.

Investigators trace Politkovskaya killing to Berezovsky

A Russian newspaper has reported that the suspected mastermind of the murder of journalist Anna Politkovskaya has told investigators that he probably acted on orders of Boris Berezovsky.

According to Kommersant Daily, the suspect, former police officer Dmitry Pavlyuchenkov agreed to cooperate with justice and gave a detailed report on what he knew. Earlier this month the Russian press reported that the man had plead guilty to murder conspiracy.

Pavlyuchenkov said that the main organizer of the killing, Lom-Ali Gaitukayev, was negotiating with the person who ordered the killing of the journalist in Ukraine as at that time this person was barred from entry to the Russian Federation. Pavlyuchenkov said that he did not know the name of this person but suspected that this could be the businessman Boris Berezovsky.

Pavlyuchenkov also said that the one who ordered the hit on Politkovskaya had insisted that it is carried out before Vladimir Putin’s birthday on October 7 and best of all on this day. However, investigators have not yet officially announced Berezovsky’s complicity in the case.

According to Russian law enforcers, Lom-Ali Gaitukayev got an order to kill journalist and human rights activist Anna Politkovskaya in July 2006 and for this created a criminal group, including a former chief of the fourth division of the Moscow City Police Operational Search Department Dmitry Pavlyuchenkov, a former officer of Moscow Police Directorate for Fighting Organized Crime Khadjikurbanov and two more people. Kommersant reports that in the nearest future investigators plan to question other suspects in the case who had been also detained.

On Friday the Investigative Committee refused to comment on Berezovsky’s possible involvement in the killing. Berezovsky himself told Kommersant that the new developments were not a surprise for him as Vladimir Putin already in times of his presidency said that the roots of the crime must be in London. At the same time, Berezovsky refuted the allegations that he could be behind the hit and said that he does not know who Gaitukayev is.

Berezovsky has been sentenced to prison in absentia in Russia on charges of embezzlement, fraud and money laundering, has been living in self-imposed exile in the United Kingdom since 2001. At some point Berezovsky received a refugee status in London and a passport in which he changed his name to Platon Elenin. He remains a staunch critic of Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin and all Russian authorities and politics.