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Moscow sees election rally, counter-rally

MOSCOW, Dec. 6 (UPI) -- Russian protesters shouted slogans Tuesday as they faced off against supporters of Prime Minister Vladimir Putin in the center of Moscow, observers said.

Video footage from Russian citizen journalist group Ridus showed riot police intervening as Putin loyalists beat drums and chanted "Putin, Russia" Tuesday night in Triumphal Square, the BBC reported.

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Russian President Dmitry Mevedev said complaints of irregularities in Sunday's legislative elections will be investigated.

Medvedev, however, said videos posted on the Internet claiming to show evidence of vote-tampering are not incontestable evidence of wrongdoing, RIA Novosti reported Tuesday.

About 300 people were arrested in Moscow Monday and 120 others were arrested in St. Petersburg during demonstrations protesting the elections. Election observers allege Sunday's vote was riddled with flagrant violations, including vote rigging and ballot box stuffing.

The BBC reported thousands of police and Interior Ministry troops were deployed to Moscow because of the protests. Interior Ministry spokesman Vasily Panchenkov said officials wanted to "ensure the security of the citizens."

Putin's United Russia party, which barely kept its majority, rallied in Moscow Tuesday to mark the party's win and to respond to opposition protests, RIA Novosti reported.

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Amnesty International called on Russian officials to release the detainees from Monday's protests.

"These disgraceful detentions highlight once again the failure of the Russian government to respect its citizens' rights to freedom of expression and assembly," said Nicola Duckworth, director of Amnesty's Europe and Central Asia Program.

Two rally leaders, anticorruption blogger Alexei Navalny and opposition activist Ilya Yashin, were taken to court Tuesday, They were sentenced to 15 days in jail for refusing to obey police orders, the BBC said.

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