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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Putin Club Pickets Georgia's Embassy

MTMembers of the Vladimir Vladimirovich Putin Fan Club demonstrating outside the Georgian Embassy on Thursday.
It made for an eerily silent protest: 18 orange-clad teenagers standing on the street, each spaced three meters from the next, all reading Tuesday's issue of Kommersant outside the Georgian Embassy on Thursday.

The teenagers, members of a group called the Vladimir Vladimirovich Putin Fan Club, said they were protesting Georgia's decision to sue Russia at the European Court of Human Rights.

That was Kommersant's front-page story that day, though few of the activists standing in the midday sun seemed clued in to the details of the lawsuit, in which Georgia is suing for damages over Russia's deportation of thousands of its citizens last year. "We want to show our respect for Putin," said Yulia, 17, who declined to give her last name. "I don't know much about politics."

All 18 people were detained by police and taken to the Arbat police station for a document check because the demonstration was not sanctioned by city authorities, Igor Boiko, head of the fan club, said by phone from the station.

The fan club members had tried to sidestep that detail by standing 3 meters apart and thus technically not qualifying as a demonstration, Boiko, 18, said.

Boiko said Georgia's actions were part of a wider campaign -- started by the United States -- aimed at discrediting Putin's Russia.

The activists wore orange T-shirts bearing portraits of U.S. President George W. Bush and Georgian President Mikheil Saakashvili. Between the two portraits ran a lyric from a Soviet-era hit by rock band Mashina Vremeni: "They are all marionettes in crafty and worn out hands."

The fan club, which says it is unaffiliated with any other pro-Kremlin youth organization, claims over 1,000 members. A Georgian Embassy spokesman said he knew nothing about the protest.