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Over ten people from Moldova's breakaway Transnistrian region, who intended to participate in a 13 March protest rally, were held by the Tiraspol police on 11 and 12 March, the chairman of the Helsinki Committee for Human Rights Moldova, Stefan Uritu, has told MOLDPRES.

Uritu said that a former candidate to the seat of president of the unrecognised Transnistrian republic, Nadezhda Bondarenko, an activist of the Tiraspol-based fund for human rights and effective policy, Oleg Horjan, and others, are among the arrested people.

Uritu stressed that they were held for having allegedly made public appeals for a protest rally against the Tiraspol regime's policy, set for 13 March 2007. Uritu specified that the total number of detainees is not known and it could be even bigger.

Uritu reiterated that the committee's observers signalled that the held people have been tortured, including through electric shock, in order to make them incriminate themselves.

"The arrests in Transnistria are only an ordinary example out of a wide range of anti-democratic and inhuman actions in the region. Through these actions the self-proclaimed Tiraspol regime violates people's right to free assembly and freedom of expression," Uritu said.

One of the representatives of the human rights protecting organizations in the region, Andrei Safonov, described the arrests on the left bank of Dniestre as groundless and running counter to any legislation whatsoever, including the Transnistrian one. Safonov underlined that arresting people who intended to participate in a rally proves the Tiraspol regime's weakness.

The Tiraspol administration's stance is that the held people are guilty of attacking the Transnistrian police's representatives.