The Associated Press

Kasparov Jailed for 5 Days

MOSCOW (AP) — Former chess champion Garry Kasparov was convicted of leading an opposition protest and sentenced to five days in jail by a Moscow court Saturday.

Kasparov and dozens of other demonstrators were detained hours earlier after riot police clashed with Kremlin opponents following a protest rally that drew several thousand people.

The former chess champion was forced to the ground and beaten, his assistant Marina Litvinovich said in a telephone interview from outside the police station where Kasparov was held.

"What you've heard is all lies," Kasparov said after the sentence was read. "The testimony is contradictory. There was not a single word of truth."

Two riot police testified in court that they had been given direct orders before the rally to arrest Kasparov, one of President Vladimir Putin's harshest critics. One of the policemen acknowledged that the two reports he had filed were contradictory.

Kasparov was charged with organizing an unsanctioned procession "of at least 1,500 people directed against President Vladimir Putin," of chanting anti-government slogans and of resisting arrest.

THIS IS A BREAKING NEWS UPDATE. Check back soon for further information. AP's earlier story is below.

MOSCOW (AP) — Riot police beat and detained opposition leader Garry Kasparov Saturday as they took dozens of protesters into custody at a rally against President Vladimir Putin, his assistant said.

The former chess champion was forced to the ground and beaten, his assistant Marina Litvinovich said in a telephone interview from outside the police station where Kasparov was held.

He was later taken to a city court, where he was charged with organizing an unsanctioned protest and resisting arrest. The court proceedings were continuing Saturday evening and it was unclear whether Kasparov would be released.

"What we see today is the implementation of Putin's plan," Kasparov told journalists in the courtroom. "Putin's plan" is what the dominant pro-Kremlin party is calling its platform in the current parliamentary campaign.

Police also detained Eduard Limonov, leader of the National Bolshevik Party, who has been Kasparov's closest partner in a broad opposition coalition.

Kasparov, one of Putin's harshest critics, and other opposition politicians have come under growing pressure before Dec. 2 parliamentary elections.

Determined to see Putin's party win an overwhelming victory in the elections, the Kremlin has shown little tolerance for any parties or politicians that challenge its rule.

"We should overcome the fear that the regime uses to sustain itself," Kasparov told the crowd. "For the Putin regime, our country is just a source of enrichment."

Kasparov's coalition, which has welcomed nationalist leftists as well as democrats and Soviet-era dissidents, has little public support. Its ranks have expanded in recent weeks, though, as more mainstream politicians have been squeezed out of the political process.

Riot police surrounded the rally on Academician Sakharov Prospect, a street not far from the center of Moscow. They moved in after the rally had ended and about 150 of the protesters, mainly Limonov's young activists, began to march toward the Central Elections Commission.

Police pushed protesters into three police buses. Before he was himself surrounded by police, Kasparov estimated that dozens had been detained.

Kasparov had not joined the young protesters who had broken away from the crowd. He was detained after walking over to see what had happened to them.

Police have violently broken up several so-called Dissenters Marches in the past year, beating demonstrators and bystanders with truncheons and dragging many off to police stations.

The city gave the organizers permission to hold the rally but forbid them to march to the Central Elections Commission.

The protest was joined by several prominent politicians who had distanced themselves from Kasparov's opposition coalition in the past.

"The feeling of disgust and protest has made us come here," said Vladimir Ryzhkov, a veteran independent parliament deputy who has been denied an opportunity to run for re-election under new election rules.

Also Saturday, police said three Moscow television journalists and a human rights activist heading to cover an opposition rally in the southern republic of Ingushetia were attacked by armed, masked men.

Five men in masks and camouflage burst into their hotel overnight, beat them and abandoned them in a field, said the activist, Oleg Orlov.

The four then made their way to a local police station, said Orlov, a member of the respected human rights group Memorial.

All four remained in police custody Saturday morning.

REN TV anchor Marianna Maximovskaya was quoted by the Interfax news agency as saying police were refusing to free the journalists and activist, insisting that they provide testimony against their attackers.

The rally in Nazran, the main city in Ingushetia, was dispersed by riot police, and at least three people were detained.

Associated Press Writer Zurab Markhiyev contributed to this story from Nazran, Russia.