Garry Kasparov, Russian opposition leader, said Monday that he will not give up his protest marches against Kremlin, in spite of many of them were violently dispersed by police or subjected to pressure and Kasparov was even blocked from taking part in march last week.
"We're simply obliged to continue to move forward," Kasparov, a former world chess champion who has become a vocal Kremlin critic, told a news conference.
The next major demonstration his movement plans is due to take place on the sidelines of an international conference in St. Petersburg at which Russian officials aim to highlight the country's economic progress.
The June 9 "Dissenters March" could be an embarrassment to the Kremlin as it tries to portray Russia to investors as a stable and thriving country. The opposition tries to draw attention to its complaints that President Vladimir Putin's government is strangling democracy as the country heads toward parliamentary and presidential elections in the next nine months.
A similar march took place Friday in Samara as Putin and European Union leaders held a summit in a nearby resort. Unlike previous marches in other cities, the one in Samara was authorized and was not broken up by police.
But Kasparov and another top opposition figure, Eduard Limonov, were blocked from traveling to Samara by police at a Moscow airport who took their tickets and passports, allegedly because of suspicions that the tickets were counterfeit.
German Chancellor Angela Merkel, the current EU president, raised the issue at a post-summit news conference to the clear irritation of Putin.
Police have justified the brutal dispersal of previous marches as justified by saying they were unauthorized and Kasparov said his detention at the airport showed authorities were devising pretexts to interfere even with sanctioned demonstrations.
"The main conclusion that can be drawn from the events of May 18 is that authorities have stopped paying attention to any kind of legal conventions," Kasparov said, suggesting that his detention was ordered by highly placed officials.
"It's completely obvious that those who carried out this special operation received instructions from such a level that they did not fear committing such flagrant violations of the law," he said.
Kasparov also said a march is planned for May 29 in Voronezh, a major provincial city about 500 kilometers (300 miles) south of Moscow.
He and Limonov both said they intend to go to these marches, despite concerns about their own safety.
"Of course we are afraid," Kasparov said. But "the marches will continue, the authorities understand this and it seems to me that this is a watershed time."
Limonov, a controversial author and head of the outlawed National Bolshevik Party, expressed "full determination to continue the business of freeing our country."
Members of the Kremlin-backed youth group Nashi, dressed in white smocks resembling doctors' outfits, stood outside the news conference at its end and handed out leaflets alleging Kasparov and Limonov suffer from psychiatric illnesses.
The leaflets noted that Kasparov had lost a chess match to a computer in 1997 and "after this he began to pursue failure."
Kasparov ignored the demonstrators as he left.
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