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Russia Arrests 'Another Blow' To Free Speech

Russia -- Lyudmila Alekseyeva and Boris Nemtsov on the march of dissent, 31Jan2010
WASHINGTON (Reuters) -- The U.S. State Department has said the arrest of 100 protesters in Moscow over the weekend, including prominent rights campaigners and opposition figures, was a blow against freedom of speech and assembly in Russia.

"The United States is concerned by reports that authorities in Moscow on January 31 once again broke up a peaceful demonstration by Russian citizens," State Department spokesman Gordon Duguid said in a statement.

He said the detentions and reports of mistreatment of some of the protesters "constitutes another blow against freedom of speech and assembly, which are universal and fundamental rights that deserve to be protected and promoted."

The anti-Kremlin protesters, including leading opposition figure Boris Nemtsov, were arrested in central Moscow on January 31 despite appeals by Amnesty International to let the rally go ahead.

The protesters were demonstrating against what they say is a Kremlin campaign to end the right to peaceful protest.