MOSCOW, March 18 (Reuters) – Russian police detained more than 100 people on Sunday, including leaders of the largest protest movement against Vladimir Putin’s 12-year rule, as hundreds rallied against him weeks after his re-election to the presidency.
At least 500 protesters gathered near Moscow’s largest television tower at Ostankino to condemn what they said was the Kremlin’s domination of the media and to denounce a recent documentary that portrayed them as floundering traitors.
“Putin’s most important weapons are lies and propaganda and they are just as effective at protecting him as police batons,” said former deputy prime minister Boris Nemtsov, minutes before riot police surrounded him and pushed him into a police van.
Protest leader Sergei Udaltsov, who is coordinator of opposition group Left Front, was also detained minutes after joining the demonstration. The rally had not been approved by city authorities.
A wave of protests began in December over allegations of fraud in an election that gave Putin’s United Russia party a small parliamentary majority. Putin’s nearly 64 percent victory in a separate presidential election in March has taken some of the wind out of the protests, but they show no sign of stopping.
Demonstrators on Sunday chanted “Russia without Putin”, holding placards and white ribbons, which have become the symbol of the protest.
CONTINUED at Reuters.