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Russia opposition leader accuses police of brutality

[JURIST] Former chess champion and liberal United Civil Front [party website, in Russian] leader Garry Kasparov [official website, in Russian] has accused Russian police of "brutality" after meeting with Kremlin officials Friday to give an account of his treatment at the hands of police agents following his arrest participating in the latest of a series of "Dissenters' Marches." Kasparov was detained on April 14 for hours alongside approximately 200 activists arrested for pushing into a blocked-off central square during an anti-Putin protest in central Moscow [JURIST report]. Dozens of protesters at that rally, as well as at an April 15 demonstration in St. Petersburg [JURIST report], were beaten by police, leading to criticism from human rights groups. The Russian Interior Ministry [official website] has responded by conducting an inquiry into the events of the protests, and thus far maintains that any police violence was provoked. After meeting with investigators, Kasparov told reporters that all accounts of violence or illegal actions of the part of the protesters were false and were part of an "attempt to cover up the brutality and cruelty of police officers."

Kasparov and fellow opposition leader former Russian Prime Minister Mikhail Kasyanov [MosNews profile] have strongly criticized President Vladimir Putin [official website] and his allies in the run-up to Russia's December parliamentary elections and March 2008 presidential election. Each have accused Putin of suppressing dissent; Ukrainian publication Zerkalo Nedeli [media website] Saturday printed comments from Kasyanov stating that given the present course of Russian politics "a revolution is unavoidable," though it is not the aim of opposition leaders. AP has more.

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