Russia: Putin’s democratic credentials exposed as fraud

Press release by the CWI in Russia on the arrests of anti-EU protesters in Moscow (see article, Anti-EU protesters beaten and arrested by Moscow police, posted on 29 May 2002). A number of the protesters were released late on 28 May and appeared in court on the morning of 29 May. The court hearings have been delayed. We will keep readers informed of new developments.

Please continue to send protests to the addresses given.

See pictures

Previous article posted on 29 May 2002.

cwi online

Putin’s democratic credentials exposed as fraud.

Riot police smash up a peaceful demonstration in central Moscow.

Just as Mr Prodi flew into Moscow to head a European Union Summit with the Government of the Russian Federation, riot police were violently breaking up a peaceful demonstration in Pushkin Square in the centre of Moscow.

Five protesters were badly injured as riot police truncheons lashed out indiscriminately and twenty five people were arrested and taken to the Police Station on 10th October Street where they are still being held.

The demonstrators were protesting at the recent labour laws that severely restrict workers’ rights, the racist passport laws in use in Moscow, the restrictions on freedom of travel imposed by the Shengen visa laws, and against the wars in Chechnya and elsewhere in the world.

The meeting was organised by the Committee for a Workers’ International (known in Russia as Socialisticheskoe Soprotivleniye), the Russian section of Attac, and the Kraniteli Raduga, amongst others.

The organisers had applied to the authorities for permission to hold the demonstration and after some negotiations this had been granted. Only at the last minute, after people had been organised to attend the demonstration, were the organisers informed that the permission had been withdrawn "on instructions from above". 

Only last autumn, the European Union was forced to mildly criticise the Russian government over its brutal conduct of the Chechen war and its attacks on press freedom. At that time, President Putin promised that freedom of speech would be guaranteed in Russia. This latest unprovoked attack on peaceful demonstrators shows that he cannot be trusted.

The Committee for a Workers’ International is organising an international protest over this attack and is being supported by human rights organisations and other socialist and trade union organisations.

We are calling for all charges to be dropped against those arrested and for those responsible for the banning of this peaceful protest and the violence against it to be sacked and brought to court.

See pictures | Previous article posted on 29 May 2002.

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May 2002