Russian police stopped protesters from gathering in central Moscow on New Year’s Eve in Triumfalnaya Square, where about 200 people joined, the Associated Press reported.
About 60 people were detained by police during the demonstration, organized by a radical leftist leader, Eduard Limonov, Reuters reported. The rally was organized in order to gain support for freedom of assembly.
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Demonstrators stood in near-freezing temperatures and shouted “Putin Must Go!” and “Free the Political Prisoners!” before police converged with the crowd and started arresting some, Reuters reported.
Police were deployed to Triumfalnaya Square early, before the protesters arrived, where rallies are usually staged. Organized by Limonov’s Strategy 31 movement, the group gathers every month on the final day of every month with 31 days, Reuters reported.
Demonstrations have been held since December 4 against Prime Minister Vladimir Putin, following the parliamentary election that protesters and international observers said were marred by fraud and violations. Putin is expected to have an easy victory in the election in March.
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Protests broke out in Moscow just hours after Putin sent New Year’s greetings to all Russians, although he expressed some sarcasm towards demonstrators, the AP reported.
The prime minister of 12 years wished well to all our citizens regardless of their political persuasion, including those who sympathize with leftist forces and those situated on the right, below, above, however you like,” the AP reported. The sexual innuendo was no surprise since Putin often uses crude language in his speeches, which have built up his image as “a man of the people,” according to the AP.
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