Hundreds detained at anti-Putin rally in Moscow

Moscow: Russian riot police on Monday dispersed hundreds of opponents of president-elect Vladimir Putin who had gathered at an opposition rally at Pushkinskaya Square here, detaining several prominent activists.

"Between 14,000 and 20,000 came to downtown Pushkinskaya Square on late Monday for a sanctioned rally to protest Prime Minister Vladimir Putin`s overnight victory at the presidential polls, which protesters say were rigged," Russian news agency RIA Novosti reported.

The 59-year-old ex-KGB spy triumphed in the presidential election held yesterday, securing almost 64 per cent of the total votes cast, the Central Election Commission said.

The venue was completely crowded some time before the speakers took the floor. The crowd broke into chants "Russia Without Putin" from time to time, it said.

The event was peaceful, but some 3,000 refused to leave the venue after the rally`s end, State Duma deputy Ilya Ponomaryov, a speaker at the rally, told Dozhd online television.

Those detained included whistleblower Alexei Navalny and leftist leader Sergei Udaltsov.

Ponomaryov said the follow-up event was formally a meeting with him, which means it required no police sanction.

But riot police insisted the event was unsanctioned and told the protesters to disperse.

Officers eventually formed a human chain and moved to push protesters from the square. They also used smoke bombs, RIA Novosti reported.

Several hundreds of protesters expelled from Pushkin Square staged an improvised rally, marching away from the Kremlin down the Tverskaya Street. Police tried to disperse them by the nearby Triumfalnaya Square, also detaining some, it said.

Meanwhile, between 30 and 40 protesters trickled back to Pushkin Square, shouting opposition slogans.