Things got pretty Doctor Zhivago for chess champion Garry Kasparov on Friday when he showed up at the Pussy Riot trial to show his support for the beleaguered punk rockers. While waiting for the legal gears to start grinding, Kasparov, who recently spoke with the Daily Beast's Eli Lake about his shitty Friday afternoon, began giving interviews outside of the courthouse in an area cordoned off for reporters and activists. When Kasparov went to follow a reporter out of the specially-designated area and into the courtroom, he says seven or eight police officers immediately rushed him, manhandled him into the back of a van and ferried him to the police station, where Kasparov would spend the next five hours without getting a satisfactory explanation about why he was being treated so roughly.
Kasparov told Lake that the police used an inordinate amount of force in arresting him, hitting him in the genitals, and apparently trying pretty hard to break some of his bones. Describing the struggle, Kasparov said,
I remember one strong hit between the legs, then they tried to bring me in the bus, and they started carrying me and beating me. When that happens, you resist. They were trying to break my leg.
Once in the van, Kasparov alleges that the officers pushed his right leg "to the ceiling," and that the only other witnesses were the other unlucky people the police had rounded up outside the courthouse. Kasparov tried to confront some of the officers at the police station, but to little effect — "They wouldn't look in my eyes," he said. He spent about five hours at the police station before he was taken to a nearby hospital where, according to hospital staff, the x-ray machine was broken.
Kasparov was one of many Russian opposition leaders who had publicly defended Pussy Riot in the weeks leading up to their sentencing on Friday, when all three band members were sentenced to two years in prison for "hooliganism" after an impromptu performance at Moscow's Church of Christ the Savior. Since his arrest, he's received many well-wishes from friends and supporters, as well as assurances from U.S. ambassador Michael McFaul that the U.S. Embassy is now carefully monitoring the incident.
Chess Champ Garry Kasparov: ‘They Were Trying to Break My Leg' [The Daily Beast]