The United States has expressed deep concern over the apparent harassment of Russian political Opposition figures on the eve of the planned demonstrations on Tuesday to demand fresh elections and a new President.
The Opposition is set to hold on Tuesday a new 'March of Millions' in downtown Moscow that is expected bring together some 50,000 people to protest the rule of President Vladimir Putin.
Opposition leaders organizing the mass rally are being called in for police questioning, which is scheduled to begin one hour prior to the demonstration. This is "clearly designed to take them off the streets during the demonstration," U.S. State Department spokesperson Victoria Nuland said at a press briefing on Monday.
"And taken together, these measures raise serious questions about the arbitrary use of law enforcement to stifle free speech and free assembly," she told reporters.
The Russian police have been searching the homes of Opposition leaders and arresting several others who had taken part in last month's demonstration in Moscow's Bolotnaya Square that ended in violent clashes between protesters and police. To give legal validity for these actions, the Russian Parliament recently passed a new law that imposes disproportionate penalties for violations of rules concerning public demonstrations.
Over 400 people were arrested and scores injured as the May 6 anti-Putin rally turned violent when protesters briefly broke through police lines in a bid to take their protest to the Kremlin walls. Putin's detractors accuse him of corruption and curtailing political freedoms, and alleges that he won the presidential election by vote rigging.
by RTT Staff Writer
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