Reporters on the Job

Almost Clubbed: Correspondent Fred Weir was in Pushkin Square in Moscow on Saturday covering a pro-democracy rally that was met with baton-wielding Russian riot police (see story). Under the circumstances, it's hard for journalists not to empathize with those marching, even if the protestors didn't have a permit to assemble there. "I was standing in a doorway with [my interpreter] Olga when the riot police surged past us. One of them raised his arm to strike me. He had a truncheon and he was going to whack me. I held up my press card and said,"I'm a journalist, I'm a journalist!" At the last second, he focused on my press card and dropped his arm. If only everyone else in the crowd had had press cards. I've never seen so many people beaten at once. It was dreadful."

Selling Ballots: Correspondent Sarah Simpson went to some of the poorer sections of Lagos, Nigeria, Saturday to witness the voting for state and local officials. In some areas, the atmosphere was carnival like. "There was a ban on cars. So, in a city normally clogged with traffic, the streets were filled instead with young lads playing football (soccer). The goalposts were made of tires," she says.

But she also witnessed the kind of vote tampering that creates a sense of apathy and has often plagued Nigerian elections. "Most people I spoke with were convinced the vote has already been rigged."

Sarah saw some Nigerians walking out of the polling station and selling their blank ballots to "area boys" - young thugs - for 500 naira (almost $4). Next Saturday, Nigeria holds its presidential vote (see story).

David Clark Scott
World editor

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