Moscow: Police detained hundreds of protesters at an unauthorised opposition gathering in Moscow on Saturday, as authorities upped the pressure on top Kremlin critic Alexei Navalny by launching a criminal probe into his anti-graft group.
Crowds of people marched in the capital’s central boulevards for a protest “stroll” over the refusal by officials to let a number of Opposition candidates run in September polls for city parliament seats.
Most candidates and Opposition leaders, including Navalny, are being held by police following a protest rally last weekend, in which 1,400 demonstrators were detained.
On Saturday, riot police were deployed in large numbers in central Moscow, some shops and cafes were shut, metal barriers were erected and the mobile internet was down for several hours. At least 300 people were detained by police about two hours into the rally, according to OVD-Info, a non-governmental organisation that operates a hotline for detainees. Lyubov Sobol, currently three weeks into a hunger strike after being barred from taking part in the local polls and an ally of key opposition leader Navalny, was dragged from a taxi and detained on Saturday as she set off for the rally.