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“It’s got more to do with the need to anchor Russia as a center of power – the Russians want to be seen as an important hub between Europe and the Pacific,” he said. “You could say that a great deal of Russian history is at work here, going back centuries – the need to have a zone of interest is absolutely no question, and if in the process they stop an important part of the former Soviet space, such as Ukraine, from integrating with the EU, they would see that as very much to their advantage.”
Russian police detain 24 opposition activists (AP) – 32 minutes ago MOSCOW (AP) — Russian police have brutally dispersed an opposition rally in Moscow. Police spokesman Gennady Bugachyov said 24 people were detained Tuesday. Riot police broke up the protest outside a subway station minutes after the activists formed a chain and started chanting slogans against Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin. The protesters also tried to unfurl banners criticizing upcoming parliamentary and presidential elections. The police were seen twisting protesters' arms and forcing them into police vans. Putin is expected to reclaim the presidency, raising the possibility he could prolong his increasingly authoritarian rule through 2024. Popular support for liberal opposition groups is minimal in Russia. Authorities regularly ban or break up their rallies. Copyright © 2011 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.