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WASHINGTON — Dramatic video footage shows riot police surrounding and shoving a Current Time TV journalist who was reporting live from demonstrations in Moscow’s central Pushkin Square on May 5 protesting President Vladimir Putin’s inauguration for a fourth presidential term.

Aleksei Aleksandrov was released after being briefly detained in a police van. Zosya Rodkevich, a documentary journalist reporting for Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty’s (RFE/RL) Russian Service, was also held for several hours in a police bus before being released.

RFE/RL President Thomas Kent praised the “skill and courage” of the journalists covering the demonstrations, and deplored the excessive use of force by police.

A spokeswoman for European Union foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini condemned the “police brutality and mass arrests,” adding that the EU expected Russia to “release without delay peaceful demonstrators and journalists.”

The Moscow demonstrations were part of nationwide protests organized by Russian opposition leader Aleksei Navalny, who was taken into custody and later released after midnight on May 6.

According to the independent police-monitoring group OVD-Info, some 1,612 people were detained in 26 cities across the Federation in connection with the rally.

Coverage of the weekend protests by Current Time, a TV and digital network led by RFE/RL in cooperation with Voice of America that provides an alternative to Kremlin-controlled news, drew 1.6 million video views among Russian-speaking audiences. RFE/RL’s Russian Service has served as a trusted source of informed and accurate news, analysis, and opinion for 65 years.


Joanna Levison in Prague
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Martins Zvaners in Washington (, +1.202.457.6948)