MOSCOW – Police in Moscow detained about three dozen people at unauthorized rallies in the Russian capital on Sunday, a week after anti-government protests broke out across the country.
The police presence was notably heavy in central Moscow. Pedestrians could only access Red Square by passing through metal detectors, and police blocked off Pushkin Square, traditionally a gathering point for demonstrations.
Twenty-nine people were arrested while trying to conduct a march on Triumphalnaya Square and seven others were detained at Manezhnaya Square, which is adjacent to the Kremlin, according to police figures reported by the state news agency Tass.
Separately, well-known opposition activist Ildar Dadin was arrested while picketing outside a police station, according to OVD-Info, a group that monitors political repression.
Dadin gained prominence in Russia's opposition community after being the first person sentenced to prison under harsh protest-suppression measures pushed through by the Kremlin in 2014.
He said he was repeatedly beaten in prison, where he served about half of a 2 ½-year sentence.
In St. Petersburg, one person was arrested as about 20 people tried to organize a small rally outside Gostiny Dvor, a sprawling retail structure on the city's main avenue, the Interfax news agency cited police as saying.
Last week's protests, in which more than 1,000 people were arrested in Moscow alone, were the largest opposition show of defiance in several years.
The unexpected size and scope of those protests raised questions about Kremlin strategy — whether it would try to address the protesters' issues or work to undermine or overtly suppress the opposition.
The new arrests, as well as comments by President Vladimir Putin last week, suggested authorities will act firmly against protests.
"''Everybody should act in political processes within the framework of the law. All those who go outside this law should bear punishment in accordance with Russian law," Putin said Thursday.