Russian opposition leader arrested after rally
This isn't exactly an attempt to destroy the opposition - just annoy the hell out of them.
Police arrested a leader of Russia's liberal opposition on Saturday at the latest protest rally against fraud-tainted parliamentary polls.
Officers picked up Sergei Mitrokhin, a leader of the Yabloko party at the end of the protest the party had organised, Yabloko spokesman Igor Yakovlev told AFP.
Police said he had refused to obey official instructions, an offence for which he faced a possible fine or 15 days in jail, Yakovlev added.
At the start of the protest, Mitrokhin had pushed back metal barriers placed there by police so more demonstrators could join them.
Mitrokhin went on trial within hours of being taken to a police station, according to a posting on his Twitter account in which he added: "My request to call witnesses has been denied."
Police also arrested party activist Maya Zavialova, who organised the demonstration, because more protestors had attended than the number declared to the authorities beforehand, news agencies quoted a police official as saying.
"About 350 people took part in the event when authorisation had only been given for 300," a Yabloko spokesman said.
"After the demonstration, Zavyalova was taken to the police station for an administration infraction," the spokesman said, adding that she faced a possible fine.
During the protest, participants set up two boards featuring pictures and names of election officials they claimed were involved in falsifications during the December 4 legislative vote.
"The country should know its anti-heroes," one activist said, an AFP correspondent reported.
Inded, Vladmir Putin has done far worse. He has imprisoned opposition members on trumped up charges as well as carrying out targeted assassinations of journalists who report the truth about his regime.
But this kind of annoyance is what dampens enthusiasm for the opposition - exactly what it is designed to do. Putin's march to re-election - this time as president - will not quite be the triumphal procession he once envisioned. But there is little chance he can lose as long as he holds on to power by intimidating and killing his opponents.