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Moscow Police Criticized For Detaining Boy Reading Poetry

Police detain the boy in Moscow's city center on May 27.

Several Moscow police officers are facing harsh criticism for roughly detaining a 10-year-old boy who was reciting poetry by William Shakespeare on a downtown street.

A video of the May 26 incident has gone viral and sparked outrage.

The video shows the terrified child screaming wildly as police dragged him away by the scruff of his neck. Bystanders who tried to intervene were pushed aside.

Police claimed that they were taking the child to a precinct office because he was on the street without adult accompaniment.

The boy's stepmother, who was nearby, tried to intervene with the police, but was also pushed aside and was not allowed to go to the precinct with her son.

A lawyer hired by the boy's father later posted on Twitter that the child had been released and that a police official had apologized to the family.

The boy's father, Ilya Skavronski, told RFE/RL's Russian Service that his son has been under treatment for speech defects for several years and that "his therapist advised him to recite poetry publicly" as part of his treatment.

"My son loves poetry and knows many poems by heart," Skavronski said. "Passersby always welcome it when my son publicly recites poems and in the past the police have reacted pleasantly and calmly."

Skavronski said police are investigating the incident and that he would decide whether to take further action based on the results of that probe.

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