Kasparov in High Spirits After Release

MTA police officer stopping Kasparov to ask him a few questions as he spoke to reporters outside his building Thursday.
Former chess champion Garry Kasparov was released from jail Thursday after serving a five-day sentence for resisting arrest and taking part in an unsanctioned procession.

"The police reaction to our peaceful march shows that the stability the authorities are so proud of doesn't really exist," Kasparov said outside his central Moscow apartment building on Thursday.

Kasparov, the leader of the United Civil Front and the Other Russia opposition coalition, was delivered to his home, near the Kropotkinskaya metro station, in a police car Thursday afternoon.

He emerged an hour later in a triumphant mood and held an impromptu news conference in the yard in front of his building.

Kasparov said that although he received adequate treatment by the guards during his sentence, "all the constitutional rights a detainee is guaranteed were broken, starting from the first second, when they refused to let my lawyer in."

Kasparov was holding a bunch of flowers given to him by fellow march participant Maria Gaidar and basking in the media spotlight in his trademark cap.

Kasparov served his sentence at city police headquarters at 38 Ulitsa Petrovka, where he was held in a small cell with two beds and around 2 square meters of free floor space, said his spokeswoman, Marina Litvinovich. She said he had no cellmates.

Kasparov said the headquarters were run by plainclothes agents, who gave orders to uniformed police.

"If it wasn't clear who runs this country before, it certainly is now," Kasparov added, referring to his earlier claims that the Federal Security Service had penetrated all law enforcement agencies and were taking direct orders from the Kremlin.

Kasparov, who was released an hour short of a full five days, said prison guards had treated him well. He was supplied with food parcels from friends and family. He expressed regret, however, that the guards had blocked his attempts to discover what other prisoners were being fed.

Riot police with batons broke up the opposition rally on Saturday and arrested Kasparov and his bodyguards. After his conviction, he referred to the legal proceedings as "a farce."

His arrest and the police actions evoked a wave of international criticism, most notably from U.S. President George W. Bush and the European Union.

Before his arrest Saturday, Kasparov launched a vicious verbal attack against President Vladimir Putin, whom he labeled a "dictator."

Kasparov in recent times has enjoyed considerable support from the Union of Right Forces, or SPS, which joined in Saturday's demonstration.

SPS chairman Nikita Belykh, committee member Boris Nemtsov, and youth leader Gaidar all turned up at Kasparov's apartment to mark the occasion of his release.

When Nemtsov arrived, he got out of his car and headed straight for the gathered media and began blasting Putin.

"The way the authorities and special services break up demonstrations is a disgrace for Russia," Nemtsov said. "I have to say that Putin does not in any way differ from [Belarussian President Alexander] Lukashenko."

Belykh employed a softer tone.

"I consider this a case of political imprisonment," Belykh said. "The judge's decision to imprison him obviously carried a political subtext, and that's why I came here today."

"I, [Kasparov] and others just want a different country, a free country," Belykh said.

Kasparov said he planned to sue the city police for illegal arrest and the denial of his rights while under detention.