Police and Activists Clash at Kupchino Rally
In a statement released last week, Other Russia said that the march would be held whether it was authorized or not.
Published: February 19, 2014 (Issue # 1798)
Police shut down the unauthorized March for the Review of Privatization Results that opposition groups attempted to hold on Saturday, Feb. 15 in Kupchino, a bedroom community in southern St. Petersburg. 26 activists were arrested. The detained protesters, mostly from the unregistered Other Russia party, reported police brutality and unusual nighttime hearings.
At about 2 p.m. on Saturday, OMON riot police wearing helmets with darkened visors surrounded the protesters as they prepared to march and raised red Other Russia flags.
Another group of OMON policemen began leading the activists away singly and in pairs, escorting them to a waiting police vehicle parked some 50 meters away.
As they were being taken to the police bus, the activists shouted “Russia without oligarchs,” “Give back oil and gas to the people,” “Shame” and “Fascism will not pass.” At one point, a 10-meter-long black banner reading “Officials serve the oligarchs” was lowered from the roof of the nine-storey pre-fabricated building, popularly known as the house where Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev grew up across the street from the site of the protest.
From within the police vehicle, several detained activists shouted about a “fat policeman without a badge” who had reportedly assaulted the protesters inside the bus. They also said that pepper spray had been used inside the vehicle against two activists. Officers were seen twisting the arms of some activists and pushing others to the muddy ground.
One of the activists, Sergei Chekunov, was taken to a hospital with a dislocated shoulder but later returned to police custody.
“Two OMON policemen first dropped him in the mud for some reason, then handcuffed him and twisted his arms nearly to the breaking point and hit him on the head,” the Other Russia’s local chairman Andrei Dmitriyev told The St. Petersburg Times on Monday.
“One policeman also sprayed pepper spray into the face of two activists. Things like that do not happen at Strategy 31 [rallies in support of the right of assembly] and it’s not clear why they behaved in this way. There has been some speculation that the officers were from Pskov, because the local OMON riot police are in Sochi, but it’s only a rumor.”
Announced by leader of the Other Russia and author Eduard Limonov in November 2013, the March for the Review of Privatization Results was sanctioned as a stationary assembly in Moscow. In St. Petersburg, City Hall reportedly declined every submission for a rally made by the organizers.
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