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Europe

Dozens Arrested at Anti-Putin Rallies in Moscow

At least two dozen activists and demonstrators were arrested in the Russian capital on a day of national protest against the Kremlin's economic policies in the face of rising financial and commercial instability.

A Russian police officer, detains a protester from the united Civil Front during a rally in Moscow

Some 20 demonstration took place in Moscow alone

Eduard Limonov, head of the banned National Bolshevik Party, was arrested as he was about to address an unauthorized rally in central Moscow.

Plain clothes officers and regular police rushed towards him with such force and pushed him to the ground. He was arrested and taken into a waiting armored truck.

"Apart from him, around 10-15 people were arrested at Trimumphalnaya Square in the center of Moscow," Limonov's spokesman Alexander Averin told the AFP news service.

A few kilometers (miles) away, some 100 members of the opposition United Civic Front, headed by former world chess champion and prominent Kremlin critic Garry Kasparov, were attacked by a group of young men wearing surgical masks and wielding flagpoles.

Riot police, which arrived on the scene after the fight was over, began detaining people they suspected of participating in the unsanctioned demonstration.

Economic woes

Police officers detain a demonstrator during a protest in central Moscow,

Police did not watch idly, as thousands of protesters rallied across Russia

More than 10,000 Russians took to the streets in Moscow and Russia's far eastern region on Saturday to protest the Kremlin's handling of the financial crisis, which has cost thousands of Russian jobs.

Demonstrators protested higher import tariffs on foreign cars that are meant to protect Russia's ailing domestic auto industry. The import and sale of vehicles made in Japan and South Korea is a key industry in Russia's easternmost region.

In Moscow, some 1,000 Communist Party supporters gathered in similar protest. Communist Party chief Gennady Zyuganov told supporters at the rally that "the revolution is the only way out of the crisis."

Clashes between youths and police took place on the edges of the demonstration. It was unclear whether all the demonstrations had been authorized by the government.

Human rights activist Lev Ponomaryov complained that many protest organizers had been taken into custody before the demonstrations took place, the Interfax news agency reported.

Around 5,000 security personnel were present at around 20 demonstrations in the Russian capital.

Putin supporters strike back

Participants in a rally organized by the main pro-Kremlin United Russia party gather on the Manezh Square next to the Kremlin

The pro-Kremlin rally was meant to show support for the government's anti-crisis steps

United Russia, headed by Prime Minister Vladimir Putin, also called on its members to stage their own rallies on Saturday, and several thousand people turned out on United Russia's request to carry out state-sanctioned patrols in far-eastern cities.

At a Kremlin-organized rally in Moscow, sports figures and soldiers called for unity in face of the economic crisis.

"We believe in Putin and (President Dmitri) Medvedev," read placards at the pro-government rally.

According to the state sources, counter-demonstrators outnumbered protesters at many of the rallies.

Russia has been hit with rising prices, a plummeting ruble and higher unemployment. The fall in oil prices and the economic downturn would cause state revenues to fall 40 percent this year, the government warned.

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