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Nov 29, 2007 at 12:52am IST

Chess legend Kasparov beaten by cops, detained

Moscow: Riot police on Sunday detained dozens of protesters, including former chess champion Garry Kasparov, after a few thousand people joined a rally in opposition to Russian President Vladimir Putin.

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

He was later taken to a city court, where he was charged with organising an unsanctioned protest and resisting arrest. AFP reports the chess legend was sentenced to five days in jail for an unsanctioned rally and defying police orders.

BAD MOVE: Kasparov minutes after he was sentenced to jail in Moscow.

"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 December 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."