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Russian Activists Detained Protesting Internet Control

SARATOV, Russia -- Two activists have been detained by police in the southwestern Russian city of Saratov while protesting government control over the Internet, RFE/RL's Russian Service reports.

The protest on September 23 was organized by activists of the Bloggers Association in Saratov Oblast and the local branch of the opposition Solidarity movement.

Bloggers Association Chairman Konstantin Khalin told RFE/RL that the action was held to protest recent statements by Prosecutor-General Yury Chaika, who said it is necessary to impose control over social networks on the Internet.

"Instead of securing the proper implementation of laws in the country, the prosecutor's office is doing its best to invent new forms of control over the expression of civil activities," Khalin said.

Saratov authorities refused to permit the protest and therefore the activists decided to organize a series of single-protest actions, for which it is not necessary to obtain permission from the local authorities.

The leader of Solidarity's branch in Saratov, Aleksei Bityutski, was the first to stage a single protest.

He stood in front of the building housing the Saratov Oblast Prosecutor's Office with a poster saying "Big Chaika Is Watching You."

When Khalin came to replace him, police detained both of them, saying as soon as there were two protesters in one place it is not considered a single protest action and therefore the law on holding public protests was violated.

The two activists were taken to Saratov's Volga district police department.

Read more in Russian here