Police show of force on eve of Vladimir Putin's return
RUSSIAN riot police beat protesters about the head with batons and detained 250 yesterday after clashes broke out at a Moscow rally against Vladimir Putin on the eve of his return to the presidency.
Opposition leaders Alexei Navalny, Boris Nemtsov and Sergei Udaltsov were among those detained during violence that showed the depth of divisions and tensions in Russia as the former KGB spy starts his six-year third term today.
"Mr Putin has shown his true face, how he 'loves' his people -- with police force," said Dmitry Gorbunov (35), a computer analyst and one of many middle-class protesters who have joined protests against Mr Putin in the past five months.
The violence came at the end of a day of protests in several cities against Mr Putin, who will be sworn in at a lavish ceremony in the Kremlin at which the head of the Russian Orthodox Church, Patriarch Kirill, will bless him.