MOSCOW (Reuters) - Former world chess champion Garry Kasparov accused Russian authorities of illegally crushing an anti-Kremlin march on Saturday and called the protest a victory for opponents of President Vladimir Putin.
Kasparov, who was among at least 170 people detained during a march organised by opposition coalition Other Russia, appeared briefly outside a central Moscow court after being charged with public order offences during the banned protest.
“Today the regime showed its true colours, its true face,” said Kasparov, 44, who was world chess champion for more than a decade, and retired in 2005 to devote himself to politics and become one of the leaders of Other Russia.
“I believe this was a great victory for the opposition because people got through and the march happened,” he said to applause from about 10 supporters carrying roses.
Kasparov was defiant and spoke confidently during a brief adjournment in his court hearing. He was accompanied by his lawyer, Karina Moskalenko.
“We were arrested when we were doing nothing. There was no action. We were just walking along,” he told about 20 reporters.
Riot police had earlier broken up a protest in a square one km (half a mile) from the Kremlin and dispersed crowds of protesters marching through central Moscow.
City authorities had banned the “march of the discontented”, the latest in a series of anti-Kremlin protests in Russian cities. Police mobilised about 9,000 officers to keep order and said they had prevented an “illegal gathering”.
Kasparov said protesters had been beaten throughout the day.
“There was simply a criminal attack by people in riot-police uniforms on Russian citizens who were just walking along,” he said. “Every possible (procedural) violation has been committed, from the moment we were grabbed up to this court.”
Kasparov then returned inside the court building.
“I have to go back in now, because if I’m late they’ll charge me with another violation.”
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