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Russian Rights Campaigners Mark Human Rights Day

(RFE/RL) 10 December 2005 -- Russian human rights campaigners and representatives of democratic opposition parties say they will gather in central Moscow today to mark international Human Rights Day with a demonstration similar to the ones held during Soviet times.

Russian human rights campaigners have accused authorities of cracking down on independent media and nongovernmental organizations.

Valeriya Novodvorskaya, leader of the Democratic Union Party, said reforms in Russia had been brought to a halt and that the country "needs dissidents again." Organizers said the demonstration planned for later today in Moscow would be a gathering of dozens of people who will just stand silently for one minute with their hats off like dissidents did in the 1970s. Similar actions were planned in other towns as well.

The head of the Moscow Helsinki Group, Luydmila Alekseeva, and For Human Rights Movement leader Lev Ponomarev are traveling to the Bashkir city of Blagoveshchensk today, where hundreds of people were detained and many injured during a special police operation one year ago.

(Interfax/Ekho Moskvy/AP/BBC)

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