| Activists of the Russian liberal party Yabloko held a
protest rally near the building of the State Duma on Wednesday morning.
Yabloko and the environmental group Ekozashchita picketed the Duma building
to protest a draft law that bans rallies in front of government buildings,
which the parliament considered later in the day. About a dozen demonstrators
held placards reading "Duma, come to your senses", "We want
freedom of assembly," and "The ban on pickets will not pass."
At first, the participants stood right in front of the entrance to the
Duma, but police officers asked them to step aside. The rally had not been
sanctioned by the authorities and the police detained several of its participants.
Yabloko's deputy head Sergei Mitrokhin
and several other party members were detained and put into a police vehicle.
The picket ended shortly after 10-00. Yabloko members were freed later
and will be summoned soon, Echo of Moscow radio reported. The party leader,
Grigory Yavlinsky declared that
he would appeal against the law in the Constitutional Court. He called
this law an "attack against our citizens’ political rights ".
Freedom of Speech
MosNews, March 31, 2004