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Three journalists harassed, attacked by police

(CJES/IFEX) - In the late hours of July 15 2009, OMON riot police in Saratov interrupted a concert of the German punk group Tower Blocks and detained four spectators, Interfax reports.

There were two journalists among the detainees - Sergei Petunin from "Novye Vremena v Saratove" and Nikolai Lykov, editor-in-chief of "Vzglyad-Info" news agency.

The concert at Canyon club was interrupted after a local resident called the police to complain about loud music and shouting. The OMON arrived at the club, interrupted the concert and made everyone present, except the Tower Blocks musicians, leave the building and then lined them up along the wall to check their documents. The concert was attended by some 40 people. As Ekho Moskvyradio reports, the concert was an anti-Nazi action.

According to Lykov, some of the detainees were treated very brutally - shock batons were used against them. One of these people was Timofei Butenko, a correspondent of "Nasha Versiya" newspaper. Petunin took photos of the developments. Soon an OMON officer approached him and demanded that he delete the photos. When the journalist refused, he was thrown to the ground and also hit with a shock baton.

Lykov, who was there to write an article about the concert, tried to find out why the police were obstructing the work of the media. The reaction of the OMON was disproportionate. The journalist was hit with the butt of a rifle and a shock baton after which the police started kicking him. Later Lykov and Petunin were taken to Frunzenskoye district police station where they were kept for four hours.

According to Interfax sources, Petunin and Lykov were beaten for taking pictures of an operative who was checking documents. After the journalists and two spectators were detained, the concert resumed.

Unofficially the police have said that nobody touched the detainees. "They have been released. They were questioned and released," said an officer at the Frunzenskoye district police station. "One of the OMON officers filed a report that journalists had allegedly attacked the police and tried to tear away their rifles," said Petunin.

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