Up to 40 arrests after hundreds gathered in Moscow for unauthorized rally (PHOTOS)
The opposition says people came to honor political prisoners and to lay flowers on a monument which is located on Lubyanskaya Square.
Up to 40 people were detained, including opposition leaders Sergey Udaltsov and Aleksey Navalny, police said in the wake of the event. Police added only those were arrested who did not follow the law enforcers' orders.
Police counted around 700 people rallying in Lubyanskaya Square.
Both Udaltsov and Navalny claim that their detention was unlawful, saying people just came to the square for a stroll. Udaltsov, the head of the Leftist Front movement, was detained by police while holding some kind of banner in contravention of legislation banning unsanctioned rallies in Moscow. Later they were released without being charged.
Most of the arrests were made once the rally had thinned out and police ordered the remaining protesters to disperse. In response, several demonstrators attempted to form a human chain to hold their ground. Coming under a shower of insults, police advanced on those remaining on the square.
The unsanctioned rally was preceded by several rounds of negotiations between the opposition and authorities, but the sides could not reach an agreement on a march route.
Last December tens of thousands took to the streets of Moscow to protest against the results of parliamentary elections which they claimed were fraudulent. The rally on Bolotnaya Square marked the beginning of mass protests that continued throughout winter and spring, though the protest movement lost steam as time went on.
Participant in the freedom march on Lubyanskaya Square in Moscow holding banners prompting for real democracy, "intelligent, responsible and honest authorities" and curbing corruption.(RIA Novosti / Vladimir Astapkovich)
Participant in the freedom march on Lubyanskaya Square in Moscow wearing a mask stating "No to state terror" (RIA Novosti / Vladimir Astapkovich)
Blogger Aleksey Navalny (center) at the unauthorized freedom march on Lubyanskaya Square in Moscow.(RIA Novosti / Iliya Pitalev)
A law-enforcement officer and participants in the unauthorized freedom march on Lubyanskaya Square in Moscow.(RIA Novosti / Iliya Pitalev)
Law-enforcement officers detaining participants in the unauthorized freedom march on Lubyanskaya Square in Moscow.(RIA Novosti / Iliya Pitalev)
Sergey Udaltsov, the head of the Leftist Front movement, greeting the press after being detained and ushered to the police van (RIA Novosti / Iliya Pitalev)
RIA Novosti / Vitaliy Belousov
Photo from ridus.ru Anton Belitsky