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Last Updated: Sunday, 25 March 2007, 02:20 GMT 03:20 UK
Russian opposition demo quashed
Riot police detain protesters during an opposition rally in Nizhny Novgorod
Riot police with batons and shields dispersed crowds of protesters
Russian riot police have arrested dozens of demonstrators who staged an anti-government rally in the city of Nizhny Novgorod on Saturday.

Protesters were dragged into waiting police vans and driven away.

The marchers were defying a ban on protests to demonstrate against what they see as attempts by President Vladimir Putin to stifle democracy.

A Russian presidential envoy described those taking part as disaffected young people and political outsiders.

"Around 30 people have been detained, four or five of them were active organisers," a local police spokesman, was quoted by the Interfax news agency as saying.

Riot police with batons, black helmets and shields dispersed the remaining dozens of protestors in the city's central Gorky Square, some of whom were chanting "Fascists".

Organisers said that dozens of activists had also been arrested ahead of the demonstration in Russia's fourth biggest city, about 380km (240 miles) east of Moscow.

'Power to silence'

The anti-government protest is the second in recent weeks. Several thousand demonstrators held a rally in St Petersburg, during which about 100 people were arrested.

The event - entitled "the march of the dissenters" - was organised by opposition leaders, including former Prime Minister Mikhail Kasyanov and chess champion Gary Kasparov.

They accuse the Kremlin of using its power to silence the opposition in advance of local and parliamentary elections.

The constitution requires Mr Putin to step down after his second term in 2008. Critics accuse him of trying to manipulate victory for a successor of his own choosing.


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Russian police use force to break up the protest



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