Arrests as Russian opposition stages Moscow sit-in
Russian police arrested dozens of protesters across several cities Sunday as opposition groups took to the streets to demand freedom of assembly.
About a hundred people staged a sit-in in Triumfalnaya square in central Moscow as part of a campaign calling for the implementation of Article 31 of the Russian constitution which guarantees freedom of assembly.
The protest passed off without incident but police arrested about 40 participants who began marching in a street close to the square, Russian news agencies reported.
"We sat for two hours and they didn't disperse us, it's rather strange," said opposition figure and writer Eduard Limonov, who is often arrested before even arriving at a public protest.
"I think we succeeded, everyone shouted "Victory!," he added. Limonov said the arrests that followed were "not nice, but not a tragedy."
"About a hundred participants in a unauthorised demonstration" sat in Triumfalnaya square in the city centre, the Interfax news agency quoted a police spokesman as saying earlier Sunday.
"As long as they do not represent a danger to anyone else, no measures will be taken against them," he added.
Opposition movement leader Alexander Averin from "The Other Russia" group said about 200 people responded to a call to protest in the central square, where demonstrators chanted "Freedom to meet and demonstrate!"
It was a different scene in St Petersburg where police arrested about 20 people taking part in an opposition gathering in the city centre, an AFP journalist witnessed.
More than a dozen were also arrested during a protest in Nizhny Novgorod, a city in the Volga region east of Moscow.
© 2011 AFP