Moscow, April 2 (IANS) Russian police made dozens of arrests here on Sunday as opposition activists staged unauthorised demonstrations in the country’s capital.
Police sources quoted by privately-owned news agency Interfax said the majority of detentions were made in central Triumfalnaya Square.
The riot police on the scene used a megaphone to warn demonstrators of the consequences of unauthorised protest before they arrested dozens of people, including minors, and bundled them into police vans for questioning, EFE news reported.
Many of the activists belonged to the New Opposition group, which includes nationalist factions unaffiliated with traditional extra-parliamentary opposition organisations.
The New Opposition had called for the march without the permission of the city council — a prerequisite for all demonstrations in Russia, where political dissent is closely monitored.
Other groups were arrested elsewhere in Moscow, including a band of young protesters who had gathered in the city’s iconic Red Square.
In an attempt to thwart any unauthorised demonstrations, police had cordoned off Manege Square, which also lies at the very heart of Moscow, in the shadow of the Kremlin.
The Russian prosecutor’s office on Friday warned that it would pursue punitive measures against anyone caught staging unauthorised demonstrations.
There has also been a recent clampdown on social media and blog posts that encouraged opposition protests, EFE added.
The measures follow the large-scale protests that erupted across Russia on March 26.
Russia’s principal opposition leader and presidential hopeful, Aleksei Navalny, was taken in to police custody for his role in organising the events and was sentenced to 15 days in prison.
That sentence, coupled with a previous conviction for embezzlement — which he stated was politically motivated — may cast doubt on his ability to run against President Vladimir Putin in the 2018 elections.
Although an outspoken Putin critic, Navalny had actually called the protests against Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev after accusing him of being the most corrupt man in Russia.
Thousands flooded the streets of the major cities across Russia on that day and hundreds were detained.