Dozens detained over nationalist protests in Moscow

Moscow, April 14 (IANS/RIA Novosti) Dozens of people were detained Saturday as some 200 nationalists gathered in the centre of the Russian capital, chanting “Russia for Russians” and Moscow for Muscovites”, police said.

The protesters gathered at Moscow’s Pushkin Square, before splitting into two groups, the grani.ru website said.

The first group marched to a police station, while the second headed to Manezhnaya Square, the scene of the 2010 race hate riots that rocked the capital.

Nationalist marches were planned in over 20 cities across Russia Saturday to protest the stabbing of two ethnic Russian football fans in the southern city of Rostov-on-Don during a clash with men said to be from North Caucasus region.

Racial tension in Russia have been exacerbated by mass labour immigration from former-Soviet republics such as Tajikistan, and by frequent clashes in Moscow and other major cities between ethnic Russians and youths from the North Caucasus.

In another protest Saturday, police detained seven protesters on Red Square at an unsanctioned demonstration against the prosecution of people suspected of involvement in unrest at a May 2012 rally against President Vladimir Putin.

Five of the protesters were released without charge shortly after being taken to a police station, while two others face fines of up to $700 on public disorder charges, reported the ovdinfo.org website, which tracks protest-related arrests.

The Ekho Moskvy radio station said police had closed off the landmark square during the small-scale protest.

Over 650 people were detained at a May 2012 rally on Moscow’s Bolotnaya Square on the eve of Putin’s inauguration to a controversial third presidential term as police clashed with protesters.

Most were soon released, but a case soon followed into what the investigators called mass riots. A probe is going on.

The riot allegations are hotly disputed by the opposition, which blames the police for provoking the clashes and claims the case is political.

The 26 people implicated in the case so far include protesters from all walks of life, from students to pensioners. Only two pleaded guilty, one of whom was sentenced to four and a half years in November.

Investigators allege the disturbances were organised by a group of leftist activists headed by the leader of the Left Front movement, Sergei Udaltsov, who is currently under house arrest.

Udaltsov and the other activists are accused of conspiring with a Georgian politician to organise nationwide disturbances, with the aim of toppling Putin.

Udaltsov and the other suspects all deny the charges, which carry a maximum sentence of 10 years behind bars.

–IANS/RIA Novosti

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