Vice Squad
Saturday, May 05, 2007
Hemp March in Moscow

As some of you might know, today was the 2007 Global Marijuana March day. Apparently, groups from 232 cities all over the world signed up for it. One such city was Moscow (see a brief and bland English language report here). The initial meeting of the march participants took place near the McDonald's on the touristy Old Arbat in downtown Moscow. Don't know about other cities (there has been remarkably little in the news about this event) but Moscow police did not treat the march participants kindly. A Russian-language news source reported the following events. By the time 20 or so participants gathered near McDonald's, the Moscow finest already awaited them. As soon at the would-be marchers unfolded their "Legalize marijuana" banner the police pounced on them and detained six people. The friends of the detained tried to free them. After a skirmish, the detainees were taken to the nearby police station. Their friends came up to the station too and started calling the detainees on cell phones. Suddenly, the police became really violent knocking down those who stood near the police station, twisting their arms, hitting their heads against nearby cars and walls, and dragging them inside the station, where the beating apparently continued. One of the detained was beaten up severely during the interrogation. Another detainee suffered an asthma attack and after a considerable delay was taken to a hospital. The police, however, does not acknowledge hurting anybody.

In truth, the police actions are not really surprising, given its treatment of other recent events (see, for example, here and here) organized without approval of the authorities. It is unclear, however, why they keep doing that. Without police brutality, few people would probably notice these events, at least not as much, although perhaps this brutality that by now has come to be expected deters many potential participants.

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