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Participant in Demonstration at Central Election Commission Taken from Police Station to Psychiatric Hospital

Source: HRO.org (info), 22/02/12

· Persecution of activists  · Protest movement  · Moscow city & Moscow region

Civil rights activist, Vera Lavreshina, arrested Tuesday evening at a demonstration outside the Central Election Commission, was forcibly hospitalised in Gannushkin Psychiatric Hospital. Another participant in the protest Gennady Stroganov reported that at the Basmannoe district police station an ambulance from the hospital was called and Lavreshina was taken away with her hands tied. At the police station Lavreshina had refused to give her name or show any ID.

In all twenty five activists were arrested at the protest. They were taken to police stations in Taganskoe, Basmannoe and Kitai-Gorod districts. According to eye-witnesses, those arrested were badly beaten up by the police in buses, from which came “terrifying screams.” On one bus the activists broke the glass from a window and shouted slogans through the resulting hole. Journalists followed one of the buses to Kitai-Gorod police station. Those arrested were shouting out all the way there. The bus stopped in the far corner of the yard at the police station so that from the street it was impossible to see those arrested being taken out.

Grani.ru reported that about thirty people took part in the “We’ll stop the dictator” protest, mainly activists from “The Other Russia.” At 19.00 they lit smoke flares: Bolshoi Cherkassky alley was shrouded with red smoke. In contrast to the two previous actions, the members of “The Other Russia” did not succeed in unfurling their banner in the entrance to the Central Election Commission.

The arrest began after one of the journalists asked an “Other Russia” activist about the aims of the demonstration. The police acted with extreme brutality, even with regard to the journalists. The activists resisted arrest, clinging on to one another for protection. Several people joined themselves together with mountain climbers’ ropes and the police could not untangle them for a long time.

Participants in the previous protest at the Central Election Commission were also badly beaten. Att that time twenty-one people were arrested. Four were sentenced to terms in prison for the administrative offence of failing to obey police orders. Sergei Zaplavnov was given two days, Dmitry Kolesnikov and Pavel Shekhtman each received three days and Dmitry Smirnov, five days.

The activists of “The Other Russia” intend to continue their weekly protests at the Central Election Commission right up to the presidential elections. They have asked their fellow citizens to come out and demonstrate at the Central Election Commission on 5th March at 19.00. On Monday notification was given to Moscow City Hall for a demonstration at Bolshoi Cherkassky Alley on 5th March. Representatives of the organising committee of “For Fair Elections” and the pro- Kremlin youth movements have submitted notifications to City Hall for demonstrations at Lyubyanskaya Square on that same day.

In the run up to the parliamentary elections, activists from Left Front, led by Sergei Udaltsov, regularly held protest demonstrations in front of the building of the Central Election Commission. In their turn, on Tuesdays activists from “The Other Russia” held demonstrations on Triumfalnaya Square under the slogan “Elections without the opposition are a crime”. On 21st December “The Other Russia” and activists without party affiliation held a demonstration with the slogan “They shall not pass,” timed to coincide with the first session of the new parliament. Participants in this demonstration were sentenced to terms in prison for administrative offences.