- Rep. Henry Cuellar on border crisis: ‘Playing defense on the one-yard line’
- Activists vow to occupy fast-food restaurants to get higher pay
- Rep. Luis Gutierrez: Senate Dems wary of immigration politics
- Summer camp for 1 percenters: Sushi, limos and shopping at FAO Schwarz
- Colorado gun crackdown law found to be built on faulty data
- Hank Aaron steps to fundraising plate for Democrat Michelle Nunn
- ISIL terrorists blow up burial site of Jonah, vow more of same
- Impeach Obama, say 35 percent in new poll
- Taliban yank 14 Shiites off bus, bind and shoot them on Afghan road
- Obama takes aim at ‘corporate deserters’
Putin spokesman defends arrests of protesters
Question of the Day
MOSCOW (AP) — Prime Minister Vladimir Putin's spokesman on Tuesday defended the arrest of hundreds of demonstrators protesting the election returning the autocratic leader to the presidency, saying police were professional and effective.
Police on Monday night arrested protesters who remained on downtown Moscow's Pushkin Square after an officially approved rally finished. Those detained included some main figures from anti-Putin protests that arose late last year.
Putin spokesman Dmitry Peskov told the state news agency RIA Novosti that "the opposition action occurred in two parts — the legal and the illegal. And in both the legal and illegal parts police showed a high level of professionalism, legitimacy and effectiveness."
The statement indicates that authorities intend to continue to crack down on protests outside of specifically authorized gatherings.
Moscow police spokesman Gennady Bogachev said Tuesday that the approximately 250 people arrested Monday had been released. Most face civil charges that carry a maximum penalty of 2,000 rubles ($65).
Mr. Putin, who has been prime minister since relinquishing the presidency in 2008, won the Sunday election with more than 63 percent of the vote, according to official figures.
But the opposition and independent observers say there was widespread fraud, including so-called "carousel voting," in which busloads of people are driven around to cast multiple ballots.
In the months leading up to the election, opposition leaders were elated not only by the large crowds their protests attracted — some in Moscow as big as 100,000 — but by the unusual official tolerance from officials who previously rejected almost all permission requests for opposition rallies.
But with Mr. Putin to be inaugurated in May for a six-year term, it is unclear if the opposition will be able to maintain its momentum and whether authorities will continue to allow large protests.
Opposition leaders were to meet later Tuesday with Moscow city authorities on a request to hold a large rally on Saturday.
The Foreign Ministry on Tuesday sharply criticized the election observers mission from the Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe, which reported serious problems in the election, including questionable vote counting and a campaign environment strongly skewed toward Mr. Putin.
A ministry statement called the mission's conclusions "prejudiced and disputable."
It reiterated Russia's frequent complaint that the OSCE sets double standards for its Eastern and Western members and said the most reliable reports came from observer missions of the Commonwealth of Independent States and the Shanghai Cooperation Organizations.
Those groups consists largely of countries that reject democracy or respect it only partially.
TWT Video Picks
Second- and third-stringers eye 2016 if front-runner stumbles
- Michelle Obama says money in politics is bad, asks donors for 'big, fat check'
- Presidents of Honduras, Guatemala blame U.S. for border children crisis
- 'We're coming for you, Barack Obama': Top U.S. official discloses threat from ISIL terrorists
- NAPOLITANO: What if our democracy is a fraud?
- EDITORIAL: Detroit's water 'spigot bigots'
- Hamas rejects Kerry's call for cease-fire; Fears grow others could join fight against Israel
- Obama orders Pentagon advisers to Ukraine
- PRUDEN: The Democratic-wannabe mice under Hillary Clinton's feet
- Obama takes aim at 'corporate deserters'
- Crime-ridden U.S. cities differ on ways to fight gun violence
Obama's biggest White House 'fails'
Celebrities turned politicians
Athletes turned actors
20 gadgets that changed the world
Fighting in Iraq