UN Urges Probe of 'Excessive Force' by Russia Police

The UN rights chief voiced concern Monday over the massive police crackdown on demonstrators in Russia in the run-up to weekend elections, urging an investigation into alleged excessive use of force.

"I support calls... for investigations into allegations of excessive use of force by the police," Michelle Bachelet told the UN Human Rights Council in Geneva.

Her comments followed weeks of opposition protests in Moscow leading up to Sunday's local elections, and the biggest police crackdown on dissent in nearly a decade.

The vote saw major losses for pro-Kremlin candidates in Moscow, Russian news agencies reported Monday.

In the run-up to the vote, tens of thousands took part in protests in the capital demanding a fair vote. 

Bachelet said in her opening statement to the 42nd session of the Human Rights Council she was "concerned by extensive arrests and police action in the Russian Federation."

She pointed to "the exclusion of several opposition candidates," and pointed out that more than 2,500 people were arrested during the demonstrations in July and August.

"Currently, five have been sentenced to prison terms, and others face criminal charges," she said.

"I urge the authorities to uphold freedom of expression, the right to peaceful assembly and the right to participate in public affairs," she added.

Source: Agence France Presse

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