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Russian Police Detain 100 Opposition Protesters

Russian Police Detain 100 Opposition Protesters in St. Petersburg

Russian police have detained about 100 political activists and members of the opposition in St. Petersburg as they tried to rally against President Vladimir Putin.

Boris Nemtsov, a leader of the Union of Rights Forces party and likely contender in Russia's coming presidential election, was taken into custody. Riot police used batons to stop protesters from marching to the center of Russia's second largest city Sunday.

Activists holding white flowers started marching towards the city center despite the government ban. Some of them unfurled banners of the banned National-Bolshevik Party. The march was organized by The Other Russia coalition, a wide movement of Kremlin opponents who accuse President Vladimir Putin of cracking down on freedoms.

The arrests came a day after police in Moscow arrested opposition leader Garry Kasparov and several other protesters in Moscow. Kasparov is to remain in custody for five days.

Other Russia organized both marches in advance of next Sunday's parliamentary elections.

Opinion polls indicate President Putin is Russia's most popular politician.

The pro-Kremlin United Russia, which is widely expected to score a big win next week, put Mr. Putin at the head of its candidates list, even though he is not a member of the party. The Russian leader is barred by the constitution from running for a third term of office next year, but he has declined to discourage suggestions that he could become Russia's next prime minister.

Candidates from Kasparov's party, United Civil Front, have been barred from the parliamentary balloting, which will take place three months before Russia's presidential election.


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