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    Russian Communist Party sets up self-defense groups

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    Russia's Communist Party has set up un-armed self-defense units in several cities to protect itself from attacks, a member of the party and the lower house of parliament said Wednesday.

    MOSCOW, May 24 (RIA Novosti) - Russia's Communist Party has set up un-armed self-defense units in several cities to protect itself from attacks, a member of the party and the lower house of parliament said Wednesday.

    At a news conference, Valery Rashkin cited instances of assaults on Communist Party members, excessive use of force on the part of law-enforcement officials, and attacks and acts of arson against party headquarters in various cities.

    Units have so far been established in Moscow, Saratov and Samara in the Volga area, and several other cities, he said.

    "These are small units, with 30-40, or perhaps 50 people. These are all adults who take part in all rallies, marches and other events," Rashkin said.

    He also highlighted several criminal investigations into the deaths of Communist Party members, launched after numerous petitions from the party, which have yet to produce a result.

    "We are also concerned that police officers in a large number of cities gather information on Communist Party activists and representatives of left-wing youth organizations," he said, adding that the Interior Ministry has branded such measures un-constitutional.

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