Anti-Putin protests in Russia: Dozens arrested, Red Square closed


Russian opposition activists stand behind the closed entrance to the Red Square in Moscow. About 300 people were planning to hold a silent rally there, wearing their symbol: the white stripe.



Russia authorities have closed Red Square in Moscow and arrested dozens people trying to hold a silent anti-government protest.

Reuters says a message about the protest had been posted on the Internet, and around 300 people wearing white flowers and ribbons showed up to attend.

However, the news agency reports that the gates to the square had been closed, and police picked people from the crowd and detained them "for attempting to hold an unsanctioned demonstration."

RIA Novosti describes how the protesters chanted “Russia without Putin!! and “Russia will be free!, before demanding that the gates be opened.

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It says that police "snatch squads" then moved in and loaded detainees into waiting trucks.  One man who collapsed was carried away in an ambulance, and the news agency has since been unable to get news of his condition.

The protest is the latest in a series of scattered skirmishes between police and protestors since Vladimir Putin secured a third-term as president four weeks ago, the Wall Street Journal's Moscow correspondent explains.

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He explains that the Red Square closure is "rare", occurring only in May for a military parade commemorating the end of World War II and, very occasionally, to keep out demonstrators.

Many news organizations including Radio Free Europe's Russian service, reported that 55 people had been arrested, but AFP put the figure at more than 70, with about 15 people arrested at a separate rally in St Petersburg.

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