Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Deputies Accuse Yeltsin of Holding Them in `Gulag' 1,500 Hard-Liners Stone Police in Moscow Protest

Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Deputies Accuse Yeltsin of Holding Them in `Gulag' 1,500 Hard-Liners Stone Police in Moscow Protest

Article excerpt

About 1,500 stone-throwing hard-liners battled police in central Moscow on Saturday, the largest clash in Russia's 12-day political crisis.

A dozen police officers and several protesters were injured.

For the first time, well-organized demonstrators forced police to retreat. Some officers fired pistols in the air to hold off demonstrators.

About three blocks away, lawmakers inside parliament refused to surrender their weapons, demanded to be put on national television and complained that President Boris Yeltsin had turned the parliament building, or White House, into a "gulag camp."

A confident Yeltsin, however, predicted that lawmakers would soon back down and take steps toward ending the standoff, which began Sept. 21 when he disbanded parliament.

"I think that common sense must prevail, and there should be an agreement today on the surrender of weapons," Yeltsin said after stopping his motorcade at the White House on the way to work at the Kremlin.

Yeltsin gave a brief pep talk to some of the thousands of riot police who have stood for days in cold and rain around the building.

Vice President Alexander Rutskoi, named acting president by parliament, also spoke to the officers, but from the White House side of the barricades and razor wire.

Rutskoi faced a line of helmeted troops holding silver riot shields and urged them to join him in the parliament building. Rutskoi was surrounded by heavily armed bodyguards.

At one point, he was drowned out by blasts of a Yeltsin decree being read over a speaker that was mounted atop an armored vehicle. The speaker also occasionally blared rock music.

Saturday's clash began when police attempted to push back hundreds of pro-parliament demonstrators downtown. The demonstrators responded by dismantling a metal stage set up for a city festival and using pipes as weapons.

At one point, a police officer was forced to retreat from a water cannon after being hit by stones.

Other police huddled behind their shields as stones rained down on them.

The demonstrators then hauled construction materials, trash and tires onto the busy Garden Ring road at the end of the Arbat pedestrian mall and set the barricade ablaze. …

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