Opposition went out to Boulevards to get arrested
8.05.12 00:24 By Ekaterina Vinokurova, edited by Semyon Kvasha
«Почему вы здесь сидите, если ничего не покупаете?» – спрашивали омоновцы у посетителей кафе Photo: ОЛЕСЯ ГЕРАСИМЕНКО
Protests against Vladimir Putin's inauguration in the center of Moscow lasted the whole day Monday. Police detained many protesters and smashed the terraces in popular cafes on Nikitsky blvd. The trials of marchers arrested earlier also lasted all days. The leaders were fined and many activists got a few days in jail.
On the day of Putin's inauguration, the center of Moscow was practically empty. Metal barriers, police buses, and riot police stood guard near almost every metro station in the center. Borovitskaya, Kropotkinskaya and Biblioteka im. Lenina were closed.
The opposition rally on Manezhnaya square, announced on Sunday, started later than planned: the idea to come out to the square closest to the Kremlin was born only the day before at around 10pm, after the rally at Bolotnaya was brutally dispersed.
There were no slogans or posters: the participants were going just to stay there in silence with white ribbons in front of the Kremlin.
The first people came at 10 am. There were almost no senior citizens: most of the participants were young men, many were very well-dressed. Few wore nationalists t-shirts with I am Russian written on them, others wore Solidarnost badges.
By 10.30, participants numbered in the several hundreds. "We need to be really careful after what happened yesterday: too many provocateurs," said some girls aged 19, youth Yabloko activists, toGazeta.ru correspondent.
Suddenly everything started happening very quickly: after receiving an order over the radio, policemen closed the metal barriers around the protesters, cutting them off from the road. Police quickly pushed those outside the barriers into underground passage and entrance to the metro station. The opposition crowd was pushed from two sides, driving them towards the easement of the Ritz hotel on Tverskaya street.
This time riot police didn't bash people's heads on the asphalt and didn't use batons, instead they were catching activists one by one and carrying them to the police bus.
RosAgit activist Vadim Korovin was detained the most brutally: he hit his head several times when he was carried into a bus, but kept on smiling and shouting "Russia without Putin."
Police pushed the crowd into Gazetny side-street towards McDonalds. Some people hid from riot squad in cafes nearby, some of the activists entered McDonalds. Police pursued them there, scaring the patrons, children among them.
"Why are you sitting here if you're not buying anything?" they asked those who seemed suspicious.
Soon the law enforcement closed the exit from the side-street to Tverskaya, people with white ribbons retreated towards Nikitsky blvd.
Right after the first event ended, on the very same Gazetny side-street and also on Tverskaya and Bolshaya Dmitrovka, groups of young men appeared wearing posters saying "Putin loves everybody" on their necks. They had Georgy ribbons
Policemen who stood at Kamergersky side-street had their radios saying: 'a group was walking with white ribbons in Bolshaya Dmitrovka, go there urgently!'" "Coming, need backup," the policeman answered.
"Faster! You need to detain them! Just don't confuse the white ribbons with three-color ones, like the last time," the radio answered.
At the corner of Kamergersky and Bolshaya Dmitrovka, the people sitting in numerous cafes there were stunned at seeing the side-street closed by riot police.
The Debacle in Nikitsky Blvd and Tverskoi Blvd.
The protesters who couldn't manage to get to Manezhnaya grouped in Tverskoi and Nikitsky Blvds. There were several hundred people with white ribbons. Soon several riot police squads came there and started to detain people and push the rest from the boulevard.
Part of the opposition was at Nikitsky blvd – the place closest to Putin's motorcade route. The most crucial events happened here and later were discussed in the internet: the debacle in Jean-Jacques cafe, popular among journalists and opposition, and the mopping up of the equally popular John Donn pub next door.
Later during the day Jean Jacques, John Donn and Cappuccino cafes were closed, "for technical reasons", the announcements said. Police buses stood nearby and the street was patrolled by riot police. There were no tables at Jean Jacques summer terrace, though they had been there the day before.
"We sat their drinking coffee, me, journalist Alexandr Podrabinek, politician Boris Nemtsov, and Vladimir Korsunsky, editor-in-chief of Grani.ru internet-media," said poet and publicist Lev Rubinstein to Gazeta.ru. "Suddenly we saw several people with white ribbons going along the boulevard. They stood in the road and police asked them to move, they fulfilled this request. Suddenly a riot police squad appeared, they ran up to the activists, started to detain them, and all the clients of the cafe, overturning the tables, breaking glasses and cups."
"They mopped up Jean-Jacques. They threw me right out of the cafe, broke my nose, threw me into the bus. They grabbed everybody, common cafe customers. It's hellishly stuffy in here, they refuse to switch on the ventilation. They sneer at us: breathe less," wrote Electors' League activist Nikita Belyayev in his blog.
Later, he found out he has a spine contusion, but despite that he was issued a draft summons.
At Pushkinskaya square riot police continued their mass arrests, surrounding and squeezing activists and fishing out people, common passers-by among them.
Close to people with white ribbons the Kremlin youth rally took course. At some point they orderly left Tverskoi blvd. They told Gazeta.ru that police had asked them to leave so that Putin's supporters wouldn't be arrested together with the opposition.
The crowd of protesters with white ribbons were dispersed in the end. Police department spokespeople reported 120 people were detained during Putin's inauguration, and that the situation in Moscow is "all-in-all, calm."
There was a traffic jam of police buses in Pushkinskaya square, all of them filled with detainees. The protesters then agreed through social networks to move east towards Chistiye Prudy
Chistiey Prudy and Kitai-Gorod
At Chistiye Prudy there were approximately 200 protesters. Many of them didn't even have white ribbons, they stood near the fountain and talked to each other. Riot policemen surrounded the cheerful young men, who where without posters or slogans, and who weren't forming a crowd but stood in small groups.
Passers-by and people resting on benches watched as police caught people strolling at the fountain and carried them into buses, and riot police closed ranks to push the unwanted walkers from the public place.
Activists retreated under pressure, sliding on wet grass. "We need backup. Bashkiria riot police squad works here, we need one more squad," - one of the policemen commanded into the radio.
Alexandr Chernykh from Kommersant daily and municipal deputy Konstantin Yankauskas were arrested after they pointed out to the policemen that their badges are covered by their pockets. As an answer to the demand to disclose the badges, riot policemen decided to detain the lawful citizens. Chernykh was released soon after that.
By the evening, activists had decided to go to Kitai-Gorod to presidential administration building. Here, at the Plevna heroes monument, approximately 300 people gathered. Everything there happened just as it did in boulevards earlier: random arrests, rings of riot police, demands to disperse. The number of arrested was 30 – 40 people, some of the protesters were pushed to a side street. As of 11 pm on May 7, the face-off at Kitai-Gorod continues.
The total number of detained during the last two days is at or near 1000 people, neither can the courts nor police manage that many people: the riot police complained of a lack of police buses for the arrested, the majority of the detainees were not tried due to a lack of time.
Some of the detainees were released after a stern talking-to. One hundred men of conscription age were issued draft summons. Several were sentenced to jail: for example, Solidarnost activist Nikolai Lyaskin was sentenced to 5 days for police disobedience. Opposition leaders, detained the day before, were sentenced mildly: Alexei Navalny and Sergei Udaltsov were fined 1,000 rubles
Navalny, after he was freed in court, supposes that well-known opposition activists were given only fines so they would not escalate the protest.
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