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Russian Police Block Anti-Globalist Protesters at St. Petersburg Stadium

MosNews | July 17, 2006

About 150 protesters denouncing the Group of Eight summit faced off with police Saturday, but officers in riot gear blocked them from leaving the isolated stadium where the government had confined them, the Associated Press news agency reports.

In a separate protest, about 250 people attended a Communist Party rally downtown. Police said 15 young activists were detained on their way to that gathering.

The detentions came after police and the youngsters shoved each other. Women screamed. Officers carried one protester to a police bus by the arms and legs. advertisement

The 15 included Ilya Ponomarev, an organizer of an anti-G-8 summit encampment. Lev Ponomarev, a prominent rights activist not related to the detainee, said Ilya Ponomarev could face criminal charges of interfering with a police officer. Two of the 15 were freed by late Saturday, Lev Ponomarev said.

Despite the confrontations and detentions, Saturday’s protests were smaller and less disruptive than those at previous G-8 summits, in which tens of thousands of people rallied and some groups smashed windows and clashed with police.

The Kremlin’s determination to keep a lid on demonstrations during the summit underlined Western criticism of Russia for intolerance of opposition. Authorities told protesters they could gather only at a stadium about nine miles from the city center and rejected their request for permission to march.

More than 200 people were detained or prevented from traveling here for the “countersummit,” organizers said.

Chanting “Russia is not a jail. No to G-8!” about 150 people marched to the tall metal fencing about 300 feet from the stadium, where Lev Ponomarev urged police to let them go farther.

“I guarantee there are no radicals,” he said.

Police refused; a cordon of about 40 riot police stood just outside the gates.

Some protesters shook the fencing and others sat cross-legged, but the crowd began to thin after an hour. Most returned to the stadium, where an outdoor kitchen served soup, tea and rice.


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