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Russian Opposition Leader Assaulted at G8 Protest Conference

Western new reports say Russian opposition leader Sergei Glazyev has been assaulted by hooligans and prevented from speaking at a protest conference planned to coincide with a summit of Western leaders.

Glazyev was to have addressed a conference in Moscow Wednesday entitled "The Other Russia." Participants from across the political spectrum attended the two-day meeting, which organizers said was aimed at exposing "systematic" political repression by the Kremlin.

In a written statement, organizers alleged a government crackdown ahead of Saturday's G-8 summit of industrialized nations. They called the alleged crackdown a fact of Russian political life.

The statement also accused the Kremlin of cracking down on media freedoms. It said at least 20 participants were prevented from speaking at the conference either through arrests or beatings.

Delegates from the United States, Britain, Canada and the European Union briefly attended the conference.

Earlier, President Putin said he will not allow foreign powers at the G-8 summit to dictate Russia's energy policy or interfere in any of its internal affairs.

In an interview broadcast from St. Petersburg, Mr. Putin told NBC News that recent Western criticism of Russia is a mix of Cold War and colonialist thinking.

Mr. Putin singled out U.S. Vice President Dick Cheney's recent criticism of Russian energy policy, in which Cheney accused Russia of using its vast oil and gas resources as "tools of intimidation."

Putin compared those comments to an errant gunshot by Cheney that wounded a companion on a hunting trip earlier this year.

Some information for this report was provided by AFP, AP and Reuters.