Moscow Protesters Detained After Opposing Putin At Commemorative March


MOSCOW -- Russian security forces have detained at least 10 people who were taking part in a march in Moscow on January 19 to commemorate a human rights lawyer and a journalist who were killed by Russian neo-Nazis more than a decade ago.

The march has taken place each year in Moscow since lawyer Stanislav Markelov and journalist Anastasia Baburova were killed in the Russian capital on January 19, 2009.

This year, however, some of the 1,500 marchers used the event to declare their opposition to constitutional changes proposed on January 15 by Russian President Vladimir Putin.

They were quickly pulled aside by authorities and taken to police vans.

One activist, Konstantin Fokin, arrived at the gathering point for the march carrying a poster with the slogan, "Putin, leave!"

He was detained by security forces before the march began.

The changes Putin proposed during his annual state-of-the-nation speech would redistribute power within the Russian government, giving more authority to positions that Putin himself could take over after his presidential term expires in 2024.

Participants at the head of the January 19 march carried copies of the Russian Constitution and a funeral wreath while protesting Putin's proposals. They also demonstrated against the persecution of political activists by Russian authorities.

Some organizers of the march told RFE/RL on January 19 that the main threat posed to anti-fascists in Russia used to be from neo-Nazis but is now coming from Russian government authorities.

The Markelov and Baburova killings sparked accusations that the Kremlin was not doing enough to hunt down the attackers of activists and journalists.

Two young neo-Nazis, Nikita Tikhonov and Yevgenia Khasis, were convicted of the dual killings in 2011. Tikhonov was sentenced to life in prison for murder and Khasis to 18 years for helping him.

Markelov had represented investigative journalist Anna Politkovskaya, who was murdered in 2006, as well as Chechen civilians abused by Russian troops.