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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Police Prepare for Protest Season

APInterior Ministry troops training outside Moscow on Thursday. The ministry expects protests in the coming weeks.

Interior Ministry officers tested out their newest techniques for dispersing rallies Thursday, in exercises that news agencies said were focused on dealing with angry pensioners.

According to the ministry’s scenario for the drill, a group of pensioners gathered for an unsanctioned demonstration and blocked an important highway to seek social support, Interfax reported. Within several minutes, the crowd was dispersed with water, tear gas and stun grenades, while some of the elderly demonstrators were arrested.

Demonstrators have blocked several roads this year, most notably in the Leningrad region town of Pikalyovo.

The Interior Ministry later said in a statement that the information about the dispersed pensioners was incorrect and that special equipment was not “used and is not generally used in practice, except for psychological influence.”

The mock demonstration of force came ahead of Russia’s traditional protest season, with opposition movements planning to hold a series of rallies in early November coinciding with National Unity Day and former Soviet holidays.

“The fall is a period of heightened public activities, largely driven by the recent election campaign,” said Mikhail Sukhodolsky, a deputy interior minister, RIA-Novosti reported. The end of the summer holidays and seasonal employment would add to the size of demonstrations, he said.

The ministry also showed off new technology, including the Groza and Shtorm water-canon vehicles. Clips of the drills, held in the Moscow region town of Balashikha, were shown on Vesti-24 state television.

The exercises were part of the Interpolitekh-2009 international fair of law enforcement equipment. Reporters in attendance were also shown a mobile policeman robot, Metallist, Interfax said.

“Most of the samples presented today in the course of the exercises were made in Russia and are or will soon be taken into service,” Interior Ministry Rashid Nurgaliyev said.