Police Detain Activists Traveling to a Funeral

ReutersMourners carrying the coffin of opposition activist Yury Chervochkin, 22, in the town of Serpukhov, 100 kilometers south of Moscow, on Thursday. Riot police briefly held two busloads of Other Russia activists traveling to the funeral of Chervochkin, who t
SERPUKHOV, Moscow Region -- Police briefly held two busloads of opposition activists as they traveled to the funeral of a fellow activist who died after allegedly being beaten by police during a protest in November.

Half a dozen riot policemen wielding submachine guns stopped the buses, carrying members of the Other Russia opposition movement, at a checkpoint just outside Moscow.

A reporter traveling with the convoy heard the police explain that they were conducting a security operation codenamed "Bus." The buses were held up for 45 minutes while police checked passengers' documents, then let them go.

The activists with Other Russia, a group uniting free-market liberals and neo-Bolsheviks, were heading to the town of Serpukhov, about 100 kilometers south of Moscow, to attend the funeral of Yury Chervochkin, 22. Chervochkin, a member of the banned National Bolshevik Party, died Tuesday after three weeks in a coma.

He had been beaten with baseball bats by unknown assailants. His colleagues blamed the attack on police, though they have offered no direct proof. Moscow police have declined to comment on the allegation.

"Riot police deliberately stopped the buses," said Marina Litvinovich, spokeswoman for Garry Kasparov, a leader of The Other Russia and a former world chess champion.

"This runs counter to any common sense. It's just cynical and immoral," she said.

Kasparov was traveling to the funeral but in a separate car and he was not stopped, Litvinovich said.

Traffic police were not available for comment. A Moscow police spokeswoman said vehicles were being checked as a security precaution following a series of explosions on buses in the North Caucasus.

Denis Bilunov, an activist with the United Civil Front, which is part of The Other Russia, said the wake was very tense, as riot police stood by, smirking and talking, while people mourned Chervochkin.

"It was absolutely a disgrace the way they acted," Bilunov said.

Police have violently dispersed several opposition rallies organized by The Other Russia over the past year, and Kasparov was jailed for five days after a rally in Moscow last month.