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First Arrest Made Related to May 6 Violence

Protesters facing off with OMON riot police through barricades and the cloud of an opposition-tossed smoke bomb at Bolotnaya Ploshchad on May 6. Igor Tabakov

Police have arrested an 18-year-old opposition protester on suspicion of having called for mass riots and having attacked police at the May 6 "March of Millions" that ended in a violent confrontation between police and demonstrators.

Alexandra Dukhanina was detained Sunday evening after a riot police officer identified her as having thrown a piece of asphalt at police during the May 6 rally in the area surrounding Bolotnaya Ploshchad, Dukhanina's lawyer Grigory Shkalikov told Gazeta.ru.

Dukhanina said she participated in the May 6 opposition event but did not commit any acts of violence, Shkalikov said.

Opposition leaders Alexei Navalny and Sergei Udaltsov were questioned earlier this month in connection with cases opened by police of calls to riot and violence against authorities, crimes that carry a sentence of up to five years in prison.

The March of Millions march and rally was held May 6 to protest the inauguration of Vladimir Putin as president. When protesters arrived to the rally site at Bolotnaya Ploshchad, a bottleneck in the crowd contributed to rising tensions between protesters and police cordoning off a bridge, and violent clashes broke out between them. About 450 demonstrators were arrested, and at least two dozen protesters and around 30 police officers were injured.

The State Duma has been considering a bill that would greatly increase penalties for violating rules at rallies and could be ready in time for the next major opposition rally, planned for June 12. The Duma last week tentatively approved the bill, which would increase fines from 2,000 rubles to 1 million rubles (from $65 to $32,400), with penalties for organizers climbing from 5,000 rubles to 1.5 million rubles.

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