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Chess legend Kasparov gets 5 days in jail for protest

  • Story Highlights
  • Garry Kasparov charged with organizing protest, resisting arrest, chanting slogans
  • Chess legend says government is harassing him to keep Vladimir Putin in power
  • Putin due to step down next year after two consecutive terms as president
  • Kasparov, other protesters demanding fair elections
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(CNN) -- A Russian judge sentenced opposition leader Garry Kasparov to five days in jail Sunday, a day after the chess champion-turned-politician and other protesters were arrested at a pro-democracy demonstration in Moscow.

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Opposition leader Garry Kasparov flashes a V-sign from a police bus after his arrest Saturday in Moscow.

Kasparov was charged and sentenced Sunday for organizing an unsanctioned procession, resisting arrest and chanting anti-government slogans.

The chess grandmaster said his conviction is part of a government effort to harass him.

"Everything you heard here is a lie," he told reporters outside the courtroom. "All my rights were violated from the outset, from the moment of my detention." Video Watch police hustle Kasparov away at protest »

Kasparov said his arrest was intended to ensure that President Vladimir Putin's party holds on to power. Putin is slated to step down next year at the end of his second consecutive term in office.

Though Russia's constitution prohibits a third consecutive term, Putin is expected to attempt to retain power in some form.

"We are absolutely against Putin's plan and his political course, because it leads us to the Third World," said Boris Nemtsov, a Russian opposition leader. "It leads to abuse of power, lawlessness and bureaucracy, uncontrolled corruption."

Kasparov told CNN his arrest came after protesters delivered a written resolution demanding fair elections to the Russian Central Electorate commission. He spoke to CNN from a police bus as he was being taken to a police station.

Authorities have been cracking down on a growing coalition of Soviet-era dissidents, leftists and democrats who are demanding that next Saturday's elections be fair.

"The United States is concerned by the aggressive tactics used by Russian authorities against opposition protesters yesterday in Moscow," National Security Council Spokesman Gordon Johndroe said in a written statement Sunday.

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"We are troubled that Garry Kasparov and other leaders of the opposition have been arrested and detained. We call for them to be given proper access to legal counsel and fair treatment in processing."

Kasparov was detained briefly in April during another anti-Putin protest. Witnesses said he was seized as he tried to lead a small group of demonstrators through lines of police ringing the square. That time, Kasparov was fined $38 for participating in the rally. E-mail to a friend E-mail to a friend

CNN's Alphonso Van Marsh contributed to this report.

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