MOSCOW, February 5 (RIA Novosti) – The police detained at least 5,156 people at political rallies in Moscow and its suburbs in the past 13 months, during modern Russia’s most restive period since the end of the USSR, a new report said.
The detentions, often accompanied by violence, were made at some 228 rallies in the period between December 4, 2011, and December 31, 2012, according to research by OVD-Info, an independent rights group monitoring arrests at Moscow demonstrations.
The wave of protests started in 2011 following the December 4 parliamentary elections, which the opposition claims was rigged, prompting thousands to take to the streets in Moscow and elsewhere. Anti-Kremlin mass demonstrations continued throughout the following year, though the movement appeared to have lost impetus and attracted fewer protesters at its demonstrations as time went on.
Some 20 sanctioned demonstrations led to 1,079 detentions, while actions that were unauthorized or did not require official permission ended with 4,090 people in police vans.
The report noted the most popular form of protest was the picket, which does not require official sanction from the city authorities: 65 pickets were held ending with 682 detentions.
The most frequent motive for protesters was support for “political” prisoners, prompting 49 actions with 305 people detained.
Rallies protesting the rule of President Vladimir Putin, who was reelected for his third term in March, were held at least 44 times and resulted in 1,773 arrests.
“Most of the police detentions are carried out without a warning” according to witness accounts collected by OVD-Info, and “without any explanation from police officials” who, they claim, frequently use violence against the protesters.
The Moscow police spokesman could not be reached for comment on the report as of Tuesday afternoon.