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May Day protests in Turkey turn violent with 90 injuries and 142 arrests

Meanwhile in Moscow, over 100,000 turned out to voice their support for Vladimir Putin.

Image: AP Photo/Burhan Ozbilici

POLICE IN TURKEY fired water cannon at protesters yesterday as violence broke out amid May Day marches.

Demonstrators were out in force in parts of Europe, marching against unemployment and austerity policies while across Asia, workers turned out to demand better working conditions and salary hikes.

100,000 paraded in Moscow’s Red Square to voice support for the country’s embattled president.

In tense Istanbul, hundreds of riot police fired tear gas and water cannon against protesters as they tried to breach barricades leading to Taksim square on the anniversary of clashes that spawned a nationwide protest movement.

The Istanbul governor’s office said in a statement that 90 people, including 19 police officers, were hurt and 142 were arrested across the city as police clashed with flag-waving and balaclava-wearing protesters hurling stones and Molotov cocktails.

In Istanbul’s Besiktas district, Mahmut Tanal, a lawmaker from the main opposition Republican People’s Party was beaten by police, who tried to push him away from a water cannon truck.

“This is a picture that you can only see in countries which are governed by dictator regimes,” Tanal told AFP.

Turkey May Day Protesters stand as riot police use water cannons and teargas to disperse thousands of people trying to reach the city's main central Taksim Square. Source: AP Photo/Emrah Gurel

In Turkey’s capital Ankara, police fired volleys of tear gas and jets of water on hundreds of protesters trying to march to the Kizilay Square, also declared off limits.

In Washington, US Deputy State Department spokeswoman Marie Harf said “not just in Turkey but everywhere, we support people’s right to freely express themself and the right to peaceful protests”, adding the US “also would urge everyone to show restraint in these kind of situations”.

Even larger crowds than in Turkey gathered for May Day in Russia — but this time in support of their government — as a huge column of demonstrators waving Russian flags and balloons marched through Red Square to voice their support for President Vladimir Putin and his hardline stance on the Ukraine crisis and the annexation of Crimea.

The 100,000-strong march was the first time that the cobblestoned Moscow landmark had witnessed a May Day parade since the 1991 break-up of the Soviet Union.

Russia May Day Thousands of Communists gather in downtown Moscow. Source: AP Photo/Denis Tyrin

“Putin is right”, “Proud of the country” and “Let’s support decisions of our president” read the banners carried by the smiling demonstrators in a colourful spectacle that harked back to Soviet times.

Trade union leaders said about two million people had turned up for May Day rallies across Russia.

In Italy’s Turin, scuffles broke out between police and hundreds of protesters. Activists lobbed smoke bombs at police, who charged demonstrators in the northern industrial city, which has been badly hit by a painful two-year recession.

- © AFP 2014.

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