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Kasparov freed after arrest in Moscow march

Chess grandmaster Garry Kasparov and about 100 supporters were arrested on Saturday as they tried to hold a banned anti-government protest march.

Russian police arrestedopposition leader and former chess champion Garry Kasparov and a large number of his supporters on Saturday during an anti-governmentprotest inMoscow.

Authorities had banned the demonstration and about 9,000police officers, many of them in riot gear, blocked the streets.

As head of the United Civil Front, part of the Other Russiaopposition coalition, Kasparov has accused President Vladimir Putin of trampling ondemocracy and has often called on his supporters to stand up to his rule.

Kasparovwas taken into custody along with about 170other activists as police prevented them frommarching through the centre of theRussian capital.

He was later freed after a Moscow court issued a fine of about $40.

The chess grandmaster appeared briefly outside the court after being charged with public order offences. He told reporters the crackdown on the protestwas another attempt by the Kremlin to suppress free speech.

"Today the regime showed its true colours, its true face," said Kasparov, who turned 44 on Friday.

Mikhail Kasyanov, who was Putin's first prime minister, was among the demonstrators and said the size of the police presence was way out of proportion to the demonstration.

"It's absolutely incredible," he said. "It's beyond anyone's imagination in a democratic country."

Protesters plan to stage a similar march on Sundayin Russia's second-biggest city, St. Petersburg, despite a government ban.