Anti-Putin Protesters to Set Up Camp After Police Crackdown

Russian protesters against President Vladimir Putin plan to set up a new camp in Moscow after police broke up a week-old non-stop demonstration in a dawn raid.

Riot police arrested about 20 people when they dismantled a camp in a central Moscow square, modeled on the tactics of the Occupy Wall Street movement, a duty officer at the Moscow police press service, who declined to be identified as per policy, said by phone. A Moscow court yesterday ordered the closing of the protest site.

About 20 people gathered in another square near the Moscow Zoo this morning, protest organizer Ilya Yashin said on his Twitter Inc. account. The Moscow police said they would act again if necessary.

Police detained hundreds of people on May 6 after clashes between riot officers and thousands of demonstrators who rallied against Putin 24 hours before his inauguration to a third Kremlin term. Several people were held after a series of unauthorized gatherings in the next three days.

Putin’s spokesman, Dmitry Peskov, had called for police to disperse the encampment near the Chistye Prudy metro station, which became a focal point for opposition activity. Thousands of people marched through Moscow last weekend to converge on the protest camp.

Mass demonstrations against alleged fraud in parliamentary elections erupted in Moscow and other cities in December, sparking the largest unrest during Putin’s 12 years in power. Opposition leaders pledged to keep up protests after Putin’s disputed election to a new Kremlin term in March.

Russia’s ruling party plans to pass a law soon that would impose fines of as much as 1.5 million rubles ($50,000) on people violating the law at protest meetings.

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