MOSCOW (Reuters) - Russian police detained at least 100 people at protests calling on Vladimir Putin to resign after a presidential election they say was unfairly skewed in his favor.
Putin says he won a fair and open contest, but thousands of protesters chanted “Russia without Putin” at Moscow’s Pushkin Square, the scene of dissident protests during Soviet times.
“We are not going to live in a country which makes a cynical show out of an election,” said Sergei Kovalyov, a veteran human rights activist, told Reuters at the square.
“Their election is a farce,” one opposition leader, Vladimir Ryzhkov told the protesters. “The authorities are illegitimate.”
There were no arrests reported on Pushkin square, where opposition groups had gained permission to hold a rally. Police said about 14,000 people protested, but Ryzhkov said there were at least 20,000.
But police said they had detained about 50 people at an unsanctioned protest on Moscow’s Lubyanka Square, home to the headquarters of the Soviet-era KGB and Russia’s Federal Security Service, the FSB.
A Reuters reporter saw police manhandling protesters as they took them away from Lubyanka Square. Another Reuters witness saw at least 50 activists arrested in Russia’s northern city of St. Petersburg at an unsanctioned protest.
Putin’s supporters gathered in the shadow of the Kremlin, waving flags printed with the words “Putin is our president.”
Official results show Putin won 63.6 percent of the vote on Sunday but international vote monitors said the election was unfairly skewed in his favor.
Writing by Guy Faulconbridge; editing by Steve Gutterman