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Russia buys crowd-control vehicles that emit sonic waves and light

Russia’s National Guard, which polices anti-government protests, has purchased two vehicles fitted with a laser and a sonic sound system to disorient people, raising fears among the opposition they could be used to disperse peaceful protesters.

The two mini-vans, fitted with what is described as a non-lethal system, cost a total of 65.2 million roubles ($995,250) according to a public procurement order posted online which indicated they had been delivered in October.

Rosgvardiya, Russia’s National Guard, confirmed the purchases in a statement on Wednesday, but said it was wrong to call the new systems a weapon and that they were intended to be used to provide acoustic and other interference during counter-terrorism operations.

Alongside regular police, National Guard officers use batons to break up anti-Kremlin rallies and have detained hundreds of protesters at nationwide protests led by opposition leader Alexei Navalny in the past year.