Thursday, February 22, 2018

Moscow police detain protesters outside TV station

MOSCOW — Russian police detained about 100 people protesting Sunday outside a television station loyal to the Kremlin after it aired a documentary-style program that portrayed the opposition as paid agents of the United States.

The NTV program "Anatomy of a Protest" suggested that opposition leaders were intent on overthrowing the government, and that migrant workers and others were being paid to attend recent protests against Prime Minister Vladimir Putin.

About 1,000 people took part in Sunday's protest, chanting "Shame on NTV" and "Russia without Putin." Many wore the white ribbons that have become a symbol of the protest movement. Drivers passing by honked their horns in support.

Sergei Udaltsov, an opposition leader who had already been detained twice this month at protests following Putin's victory in a March 4 presidential election, was among those detained Sunday. Udaltsov and others detained at the beginning of the protest were released a few hours later.

Shortly after Putin came to power in 2000, he engineered the takeover of the private NTV network by the state-controlled gas company Gazprom. In recent months, after the protests against Putin drew tens of thousands to Moscow's streets, it has been NTV rather than the two state television networks that has broadcast some of the nastiest attacks on the opposition.

More than 20 people were detained at an anti-Putin protest Saturday. All were later released.

Alexander Leyfa, a translator, said people who turned out for the big protests in Moscow this winter were "humiliated by this so-called documentary."

More would have turned out Sunday, he said, but people understood the demonstration did not have a permit and were wary of the police.

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