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Russian police briefly detain several gay activists in St. Petersburg

  • Police officers detain a gay rights activist standing with a rainbow flag during a protest at Dvortsovaya (Palace) Square in St.Petersburg, Russia, Sunday, Aug. 2, 2015. Several gay rights activists stood protesting against gay rights violation at Palace square where paratroopers celebrated Paratroopers' Day. (AP Photo/Dmitry Lovetsky)

    Police officers detain a gay rights activist standing with a rainbow flag during a protest at Dvortsovaya (Palace) Square in St.Petersburg, Russia, Sunday, Aug. 2, 2015. Several gay rights activists stood protesting against gay rights violation at Palace square where paratroopers celebrated Paratroopers' Day. (AP Photo/Dmitry Lovetsky)  (The Associated Press)

  • An anti-gay takes away a poster from a gay rights activist who is taking part in a protesting picket at Dvortsovaya (Palace) Square in St.Petersburg, Russia, Sunday, Aug. 2, 2015. Several gay rights activists stood protesting against gay rights violation at Palace square where paratroopers celebrated Paratroopers' Day. (AP Photo/Dmitry Lovetsky)

    An anti-gay takes away a poster from a gay rights activist who is taking part in a protesting picket at Dvortsovaya (Palace) Square in St.Petersburg, Russia, Sunday, Aug. 2, 2015. Several gay rights activists stood protesting against gay rights violation at Palace square where paratroopers celebrated Paratroopers' Day. (AP Photo/Dmitry Lovetsky)  (The Associated Press)

  • A former paratrooper celebrating Paratroopers Day, right, takes away a broadsheet of a gay rights activist who is taking part in a protest at Dvortsovaya (Palace) Square in St.Petersburg, Russia, Sunday, Aug. 2, 2015. Several gay rights activists stood protesting against gay rights violation at Palace square where paratroopers celebrated Paratroopers' Day. Paratroopers are an elite unit of the Russian Army, and everyone in the country recognize their blue berets.(AP Photo/Dmitry Lovetsky)

    A former paratrooper celebrating Paratroopers Day, right, takes away a broadsheet of a gay rights activist who is taking part in a protest at Dvortsovaya (Palace) Square in St.Petersburg, Russia, Sunday, Aug. 2, 2015. Several gay rights activists stood protesting against gay rights violation at Palace square where paratroopers celebrated Paratroopers' Day. Paratroopers are an elite unit of the Russian Army, and everyone in the country recognize their blue berets.(AP Photo/Dmitry Lovetsky)  (The Associated Press)

Police in St. Petersburg have briefly detained several gay activists, who have held pickets in defense of gay rights on a Russian military holiday.

Police on Sunday rounded up Yuri Gavrikov, the leader of a gay rights group, as he left his home to hold a one-man picket in front of the Hermitage Museum.

Several other gay activists, who held individual pickets on the square, were assailed by veterans of Russian Airborne Forces, who tore up their posters. Police quickly took the gay activists away.

Paratroopers gathered in many Russian cities to mark the Airborne Forces Day on Sunday.

Russia has been widely criticized for infringement on gay rights following the passage of a law that prohibits vaguely defined "propaganda of nontraditional sexual relations" to minors.