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Russian Police Disperse Demonstrators From St. Petersburg


Russian riot police have dispersed thousands of opposition protesters from the main square in St. Petersburg, detaining at least 20 people.

More than 2,000 demonstrators turned out for Saturday's banned "March of Dissent," which was organized by the opposition umbrella group, Other Russia.

Demonstrators carrying banners and shouting anti-government slogans broke through a police cordon in central St. Petersburg to marched down the main avenue. They interrupted the traffic flow until police forced them away.

The government refused to give permission for the march, which comes ahead of local elections. It suggested a rally be held outside the city center instead.

The opposition accuses the government of corruption and repression. Critics also accuse the Kremlin of undermining democratic institutions and controlling the media.

Opposition presidential candidate and former prime minister, Mikhail Kasyanov, former chess champion Gary Kasparov, and the leader of Other Russia, Eduard Limonov, attended the march.

Critics also accuse President Vladimir Putin of suppressing freedom of expression ahead of the 2008 presidential election.

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