Russia: Outrageous use of force against protesters in Moscow and all over the country

Following the forceful dispersal of today’s peaceful opposition rallies in Moscow and all over Russia, and the inaction of the police who allowed the beating of protesters by unknown people in ‘’Cossack’’ uniforms, Denis Krivosheev, Amnesty International Deputy Director for Eastern Europe and Central Asia said:

“The forceful dispersal of today’s opposition demonstrations is outrageous. The Russian authorities once again refused to authorise protest rallies, and then used this ban to crackdown on those gathered in Moscow and elsewhere.

The Russian authorities once again refused to authorise protest rallies, and then used this ban to crackdown on those gathered in Moscow and elsewhere
Denis Krivosheev, Deputy Director for Eastern Europe and Central Asia at Amnesty International

“But what is worse is the total police inaction, which allowed the beating of protesters by unknown men in Moscow. On what grounds people in ‘’Cossack’’ uniforms were allowed to use force remains a question.

“Authorities should immediately release all peaceful protesters arrested and launch an independent, thorough and effective investigation of the use of force by police, and attacks on the protesters by the “Cossacks” with the inaction of the police.”

Background

Today, opposition gathered at the Pushkinskaya Square in Moscow and more than 100 other Russian cities to protest ahead of presidential inauguration of Vladimir Putin, which is scheduled for May 7.

Delegates from Amnesty International attended the protests as observers in Moscow and became direct witnesses to the use of unprovoked force by unknown men in ‘’Cossack’’ uniforms against peaceful protesters.

Amnesty International notes that although there were a number of clashes between protesters and law enforcement officers, overall protests in Moscow were peaceful and the use of force against its participants was disproportionate.

According to media reports, at least one of the protesters was seriously injured in the head after being beaten by police. In addition, Amnesty International draws attention to the fact that minors were arbitrarily detained during the protest.

Opposition protests under the slogan “He's not our tsar” were organised in more than a hundred cities. In most cases they were not authorised by the local authorities.

According to the human rights site OVD-Info, more than 1,300 people were arrested throughout the country, at least 572 of them in Moscow alone.