The opulent, fortified Kremlin, which stands right in the centre of Moscow, looked like a besieged castle on Sunday. Metal fences, traffic cops and interior ministry riot troops blocked all the streets around Lubyanka square, the Federal Security Service headquarters, and Red Square. The metro stations were closed.
On Sunday, hundreds of policemen surrounded Pushkin square which was flooded with up to 40,000 protesters last weekend. A chain of policemen blocked the way to the square at noon, another group blocked the crossing under Tverskaya avenue. Riot police, covered in black armor from head to toe, dragged a young man in a black face mask outside Chistye Prudy metro station, his feet slipping on the wet snow.
Russian police have so far detained 3,000 people at unauthorised protests across the country as protesters called for the release of Kremlin critic Alexei Navalny, the OVD-Info monitoring group said.
The group said the figure included 469 people detained in Moscow. Police also detained Navalny’s wife Yulia Navalnaya at a protest in Moscow, Na-valny’s allies said on social media.
Police in Moscow initially detained at least 100 people as the rallies began under snowfall around 0900 GMT amid a huge police presence, Reuters reporters said.
Yulia, a 40-year-old protester in Moscow, said she had come to the protests despite having a panic attack the night before because of worrying about repercussions for taking part.
“I understand that I live in a totally lawless state. In a police state, with no independent courts. In a country ruled by corruption. I would like to live differently,” she said.
Police have said the protests were illegal as they had not been authorised and would be broken up. Authorities have said demonstrators could spread Covid-19.
Crowds of protesters were scattered about in Moscow after the organisers twice changed the planned gathering point as police took highly un-usual steps to seal off pedestrian access to areas of the capital and shut down metro stations.
Police put turnout at the Moscow protest at around 300 people. In the far eastern city of Vladi-vostok, police prevented protesters from accessing the city centre, forcing them to relocate to the water-front by the frozen Amur Bay.— Agencies