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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Gryzlov Defends Riot Police

State Duma Speaker Boris Gryzlov on Thursday called last weekend's Dissenters' Marches in Moscow and St. Petersburg "provocations" and said police had "acted correctly" in dispersing them.

Gryzlov told reporters that a Duma working group would be formed Tuesday to investigate "who was behind these provocations and who paid for the provocations," Interfax reported.

Gryzlov, who also heads the pro-Kremlin United Russia party, said police "did everything right" in cracking down on the protesters.

Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov conceded earlier this week to "some over-reaction" on the part of the police.

Thousands of police officers violently dispersed the marches Saturday in Moscow and Sunday in St. Petersburg.

Both rallies were organized by The Other Russia, an opposition coalition that includes Garry Kasparov's United Civic Front and the unregistered National Bolshevik Party. Dozens of demonstrators were beaten and detained, drawing sharp criticism from Washington and Europe, as well as several human rights' organizations.

On Thursday, Ekho Moskvy radio aired intercepted radio communications of law enforcement officials during the Moscow march. Voices identified by the radio station as police officers are heard saying "to round them all up and load them" into trucks and buses.

Other Russia leaders, including Kasparov and former Prime Minister Mikhail Kasyanov, met at the Central House of Journalists on Thursday to discuss the rallies. Marina Litvinovich, a rally organizer, said The Other Russia had received about 50 detailed complaints about police beatings and other abuses from demonstrators, Interfax reported. The Other Russia and several human rights groups will provide legal assistance to demonstrators who decide to go to court, she said.

Vladimir Ryzhkov, an independent Duma deputy, said earlier this week that he would ask Interior Minister Rashid Nurgaliyev to conduct an internal investigation into police conduct at the rallies.