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.