MOSCOW (Reuters) - Police detained dozens of opposition protesters on Sunday at an Occupy-style rally against President Vladimir Putin in central Moscow.
Activists gathered near Red Square in front of the Kremlin and walked toward the popular Arbat pedestrian district, but were detained upon reaching the sit-in protest which began earlier this month.
Witnesses said riot police treated protesters who resisted roughly. “One man in his 50s was grabbed and carried away by his arms and legs. It was terrible,” said Natalia Pozdnyakova, 73, dressed in white, the color which has become the symbol of the protests.
Police told Russian news agency Interfax 35 people had been detained.
Earlier in the day, dozens of people were detained when Russian Orthodox Church activists clashed with gay rights protesters in central Moscow.
Though Russia’s protest movement began in response to accusations of voting fraud in a parliamentary election last year, Moscow protests have broadened the movement’s demands, reflecting anger over a range of issues from human rights to high-level corruption.
Putin’s return to the presidency on May 7 and a demonstration marred by violence before his inauguration added to resentment and sparked sit-in protests in the capital.
Putin’s top human rights adviser said on Sunday he would look into the reasons why people who were wearing white ribbons as a show of solidarity with the protest movement were being detained.
“By itself, wearing a white ribbon, just like a ribbon of any other color or white clothes or wearing clothes of any other color, is not a violation of administrative law,” Mikhail Fedotov told the Itar-Tass news agency.
“We have to understand on what grounds police are detaining people.”
Reporting by Steve Gutterman and Thomas Grove; Writing by Thomas Grove; Editing by Pravin Char