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Journalists arrested while covering protest

(GDF/IFEX) - A dissenter's march was held in Moscow on 14 December 2008. Authorities had not given approval for the march to be staged in the center of the city, so in response to the march OMON (the special police force) severely clamped down on the protesters detaining over 100 people and reporting their "effective control over attempts to commit acts of hooliganism".

Several reporters covering the march were detained together with opposition activists. Encouraged by their commanders' radio instructions "to be more active", policemen grabbed people in all directions without trying to discern journalists from protesters. It is also possible that the police deliberately targeted reporters to minimise the number of media reports of OMON "heroism".

The detainees include Vyacheslav Melman of ; Yegor Skovoroda of ; Alexander Artemyev of ; Sergey Lantyukhov of ; and Roman Dobrokhotov of the Govorit Moskva radio station who recently lost his job after he interrupted a speech by President Dmitry Medvedev in the Kremlin Palace.

According to other sources, the police officers also detained a photographer for the website , a reporter for "Kommersant Daily" and a crew of reporters for REN-TV.

The detainees were charged with violating article 20.2 of the RF Administrative Code ("Breach of order of an organisation's internal rules or the rules of holding a meeting, a rally, a demonstration, a march or a picketing action"). They will be required to appear in court and possibly pay a fine.

The above information is based on Moscow Echo, , , and "Nezavisimaya Gazeta" reports.

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