Police in Moscow have detained over 200 people who took part in an "unauthorized" anti-Putin march. One day prior, dozens were detained at another nationalist anti-Kremlin rally to mark Russia's Day of National Unity.
Hundreds of participants at a demonstration close to the Kremlin were detained on Sunday for holding an unauthorized protest against Russian President Vladimir Putin, Moscow police said.
"For breaches of public order in central Moscow, 263 people have been detained. They have all been taken to local police stations," Moscow police said in a statement.
Monitoring group OVD-Info said that 376 people were detained on Sunday in Moscow while another 36 were detained in three other Russian cities.
Police confiscated pistols that can fire rubber bullets, knives, brass knuckles and other objects, according to reports from state news agencies Interfax and TASS.
Sunday's protest, which took place in Moscow's Manezh Square, was organized by the group Artpodgotovka ("artillery preparation").
The group's exiled leader Vyacheslav Maltsev, a radical opposition politician who describes himself as a "Russian nationalist," urged supporters in a video released Saturday to "say no to Putin's regime."
Other Communist Party supporters showed up to take part in a wreath-laying ceremony at Vladimir Lenin's mausoleum
The detentions come one day after hundreds of mostly young nationalists gathered in the southeast Moscow suburb of Lyublino to mark Russia's Day of National Unity.
Demonstrators on Saturday chanted "Putin is a thief" and "freedom for political prisoners."
Police in riot gear moved to break up the protesters and detained dozens. Among those detained were all of the protest's organizers, nationalist leader Ivan Beletsky told state news agency Interfax.
Previously, the security forces had banned the protesters from bringing in banners, leading organizers to officially cancel the march.
Beletsky, the head of the unregistered "Nationalist Party" said on Facebook that the police raided his home and homes of his family members early on Saturday. His party secretary, Andrey Petrovsky, was detained by members of the FSB security service, Beletsky added.
Nationalists vs the Kremlin
While many Russian nationalists support the regime of Russian President Vladimir Putin, others criticize him as being too soft on immigration policy. The Kremlin also added to the resentment by cracking down on extreme nationalists in recent years, jailing many of their leaders or forcing them into exile.
The extreme nationalist movement is also burdened by infighting, leading to a rival rally being held on Saturday on the opposite side of Moscow. Police said that some 200 people attended the other event in Oktyabrskoe Pole, and that eight people were arrested. Most of them were detained for wearing masks over their faces, reported Russian TV Dozd.
rs,dj/jlw (AP, AFP, dpa)