MOSCOW - Russian authorities closed Moscow's Red Square on Sunday and detained dozens of people trying to hold a silent anti-government protest there, prompting opposition charges that they were denying Russians their right to free assembly.
Several hundred people responded to calls on the Internet to gather in Red Square outside the Kremlin wearing white ribbons or clothing as a symbol of protest, but found the iron gates to the sprawling square closed.
Police detained four people heading for the square from a nearby subway station, and later picked people out of the crowd at the gates and pushed them into buses. A police spokesman said about 55 people had been detained near Red Square "for attempting to hold an unsanctioned demonstration."
Opposition leaders say the government violates Russians' constitutional right to free assembly by requiring permission from local authorities for street demonstrations. Police often disperse unsanctioned rallies and detain protesters.
On Saturday, riot police detained about 60 people in Moscow and 15 in St. Petersburg, dispersing protesters shouting "Russia without Putin" and "Freedom of Assembly: Always and Everywhere!"
Activists said the authorities would have no reason to detain people simply strolling on Red Square with white ribbons. Bachina said she believed the square was closed because "the authorities are frightened."
Police officers gave various reasons for the closure of the square, one saying it was shut for repair work, while another cited an unspecified event due to be held there.
This is a hilarious article, but I remember when the aliens "Gephardtized" Steve Dallas's brain, turning him into a church-going New Age feminist vegan. I also recall McGovern and Kerry, among others, being accused of flip-flopping.
According to Wikipedia (I know, I know), the NYT mentions political flip-flopping back in 1890. (But they didn't have quantum theory back then.) Everything old is new again at the Times!