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Russia

Moscow police detain hundreds of protesters at anti-Putin rally after prominent activist called for ‘people’s revolution’ online

The FSB security service said on Friday that it had detained a group planning to carry out ‘high-profile extremist actions’

PUBLISHED : Sunday, 05 November, 2017, 8:20pm
UPDATED : Sunday, 05 November, 2017, 10:49pm

Russian police said they detained 380 activists gathering in central Moscow on Sunday for an unauthorised protest against President Vladimir Putin.

Radical opposition activist Vyacheslav Maltsev had appealed on his website for his supporters to hold protests across the country, calling for a “people’s Revolution” and an immediate end to Putin’s rule.

Many of those detained were carrying knives, knuckle-dusters and pistols that can fire rubber bullets, TASS state news agency reported. It said police were detaining activists after searching them.

Police, some in helmets and bulletproof vests, picked up the protesters one by one in central Moscow close to the Kremlin.

A reporter for popular Echo of Moscow radio station, Andrei Yezhov, wrote on Twitter that he had been detained and posted video from inside a police van, saying most of those held were in their early 20s. He was later released without charge.

Maltsev ran for parliament last year and has a popular YouTube channel with critical political commentary.

He lives in the regional city of Saratov but fled to Paris earlier this year after a Moscow court issued an arrest warrant for him over calls for extremist activity. His movement called Artpodgotovka was banned by a court in October.

The FSB security service said on Friday that it had detained a group of supporters of Maltsev who were planning to carry out “high-profile extremist actions” on November 4 and 5 including setting fire to government offices and attacking police officers. It said the detentions took place in Moscow and its surrounding region.

The security service said that police had halted the activities of groups of his supporters in five other cities.

It accused Maltsev of using the internet for “propaganda of violent actions”.

Sunday’s protest came after police in Moscow on Saturday detained dozens of people at a nationalist anti-Kremlin march on a public holiday known as the Day of National Unity.

In recent months, opposition leader Alexei Navalny has also called supporters onto streets for protests without permission from city authorities, resulting in large numbers of arrests.

In June, more than 1,500 Navalny supporters were arrested during a day of demonstrations across the nation against government corruption.