Saturday 20 January 2018

Dozens of arrests made at unauthorised rallies in Moscow

Policemen detain a man while patrolling the city centre in the case of an anti-government protest, which was not sanctioned by the authorities, in central Moscow, Russia, April 2, 2017. REUTERS/Maxim Shemetov
Policemen detain a man while patrolling the city centre in the case of an anti-government protest, which was not sanctioned by the authorities, in central Moscow, Russia, April 2, 2017. REUTERS/Maxim Shemetov
Policemen detain a man while patrolling the city centre in the case of an anti-government protest, which was not sanctioned by the authorities, in central Moscow, Russia, April 2, 2017. REUTERS/Maxim Shemetov
Policemen detain a man during an unsanctioned anti-government protest in central Moscow, Russia, April 2, 2017. REUTERS/Maxim Shemetov

Jim Heintz

About three dozen people have been arrested at unauthorised rallies in Moscow, a week after anti-government protests broke out across Russia.

The police presence was notably heavy in central Moscow. Pedestrians could only access Red Square by passing through metal detectors and police blocked off Pushkin Square, traditionally a gathering point for demonstrations.

Twenty-nine people were arrested while trying to conduct a march on Triumphalnaya Square and seven others were detained at Manezhnaya Square, which is adjacent to the Kremlin, according to police figures reported by the state news agency Tass.

Separately, well-known opposition activist Ildar Dadin was arrested while picketing outside a police station, according to OVD-Info, a group that monitors political repression.

Policemen detain young men while patrolling streets in the case of an anti-government protest, which was not sanctioned by the authorities, in Moscow, Russia, April 2, 2017. REUTERS/Maxim Shemetov
Policemen detain young men while patrolling streets in the case of an anti-government protest, which was not sanctioned by the authorities, in Moscow, Russia, April 2, 2017. REUTERS/Maxim Shemetov
Policemen detain men during an unsanctioned anti-government protest in Moscow, Russia, April 2, 2017. REUTERS/Maxim Shemetov
Policemen detain a man during an unsanctioned anti-government protest in Moscow, Russia, April 2, 2017. REUTERS/Maxim Shemetov

Mr Dadin gained prominence in Russia's opposition community after being the first person sentenced to prison under harsh protest-suppression measures pushed through by the Kremlin in 2014.

He said he was repeatedly beaten in prison, where he served about half of a two-and-a-half year sentence.

In St Petersburg, one person was arrested as about 20 people tried to organise a small rally outside Gostiny Dvor, a sprawling retail structure on the city's main avenue, the Interfax news agency cited police as saying.

Last week's protests, in which more than 1,000 people were arrested in Moscow alone, were the largest opposition show of defiance in several years.

The unexpected size and scope of those protests raised questions about Kremlin strategy - whether it would try to address the protesters' issues or work to undermine or overtly suppress the opposition.

The new arrests, as well as comments by President Vladimir Putin last week, suggested authorities will act firmly against protests.

"Everybody should act in political processes within the framework of the law. All those who go outside this law should bear punishment in accordance with Russian law," Mr Putin said Thursday.

Press Association

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