Opposition activists listen to one of their leaders, Ilya Yashin (back L), during a rally at their camp in the Chistye Prudy district in central of Moscow, on May 15, 2012. The hundreds of opposition supporters who staged a week-long sit-in protest in central Moscow against Putin's rule were dispersed by police on the morning of May 16, 2012.

Russian police broke up a protest camp in Moscow which had become a rallying point for anti-Putin protesters on Wednesday morning, according to the Associated Press.

They also briefly detained 20 activists. In the past few months, the authorities have placed leading protest organizers behind bars, threatened others and proposed laws that would increase fines for taking part in unsanctioned rallies up to 300-fold, in a broadening crackdown against the opposition, according to the AP.

AFP reported that the protest camp was an Occupy-style sleep-in protest which had been established for a week, to protest President Vladimir Putin's inauguration.

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A court on Tuesday had ordered police to disperse the demonstrators by noon, but the police moved in at 5 a.m., according to Voice of America.

"They put up no resistance. Everything passed off fairly peacefully," said deputy district police chief Yury Zdorenko, according to AFP. "Everything happened in accordance with the spirit of the law"

The Washington Post reported that shortly after the dispersal, another gathering began in a small part near the Barrikadnaya metro station.

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Ilya Yashin, one of the chief organizers of the opposition to Putin's 12-year rule, said, "We're just trying to get together," according to The Post.

The day before Putin's inauguration, nearly 20,000 took part in an opposition rally and at least 700 people had been arrested, including two prominent opposition leaders, Aleksei Navalny and Sergei Udaltsov, according to The New York Times.

The latest form of protest, according to AFP, was more than 10,000 Russians taking a "peaceful stroll" through a neighborhood on Saturday, testing the limits of the law for an unsanctioned rally.

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