MOSCOW – Police on Friday detained about 10 people protesting what they consider fraud in Russia's nationwide local elections, preventing them from delivering a petition to the presidential administration.
Friday's small protest was led by marginalized Kremlin critics, but it followed a rare display of apparent rebellion in Russia's Kremlin-controlled parliament. Dozens of lawmakers on Wednesday walked out in protest over the elections, which left their parties without representation in many local legislatures.
Prime Minister Vladimir Putin's party, United Russia, was the overwhelming victor in most of the 7,000 elections held Sunday across Russia.
Independent election observers and opposition parties insist there were mass violations during voting.
"The elections were absolutely dishonest," said Sergei Udaltsov, a sharp Kremlin critic and leader of a left-wing movement, who led Friday's protest in central Moscow.
Udaltsov accused authorities of ballot stuffing and abusing the absentee voting system.
Moments later police violently hauled Udaltsov to a bus nearby as he began collecting signatures for a petition calling for the election results to be scrapped.
Several of his supporters were also carried away, with some shouting "disgrace!" as they grappled with police.
The controversy over the election has had broad resonance in Russia, where political life is tightly controlled. Liberal observers have questioned whether the parliament walkout was a truly independent initiative.
President Dmitry Medvedev said the elections were carried out in accordance with the law and showed the authority United Russia had gained throughout the country. But he has also spoken out in support of a more competitive political system, with multiple parties represented.
United Russia, which dominates the parliament, represents a power base for Putin, who has not ruled out running for president again in 2012.