Around 600 opposition supporters have been detained at an unsanctioned rally in the heart of Moscow. Supporters of both the government and the opposition have flocked to Triumfalnaya Square, which has been cordoned off by police.
Among those detained and taken to nearby police buses are well-known bloggers and opposition leaders. Several journalists have also been arrested, and according to their social network posts, some have been beaten as well. Those at the scene are providing live updates of the rally via Twitter; with many saying there are at least 5,000 opposition supporters, 2,000 pro-government youth group members and around one thousand police officers.
RT’s Peter Oliver is at the scene and says the riot police presence is definitely noticeable. Water cannons are also on site in case the rally turns violent. There have been reports of minor clashes and a few firebombs thrown into the crowd, but no major violence has broken out so far. The square itself has been closed off by police officers, and nearby streets are also full of security vehicles and personnel. Earlier Tuesday, reports spread of increased police and military presence in the capital, but these were denied by the Interior Ministry.
Watch latest video from Triumfalnaya Square:
Meanwhile, members of pro-government youth groups have tried to upstage the opposition rally, showing up with drums and flags, shouting about United Russia's victory in Sunday’s parliamentary election. In turn, those protesting the election results are screaming ‘shame on you!’, says RT’s crew at the scene.
In St. Petersburg, around 200 opposition supporters were also detained at an unsanctioned rally. There, hundreds are gathered in the city centre, protesting against the results of Sunday's parliamentary election. According to news sources and people at the scene, police are trying to cordon off the crowds, but some have reportedly broken through and are heading to the city's Legislative Assembly building.
Protests across the country have been taking place since Monday. In Moscow, thousands gathered to express their discontent with the outcome of the votes. The rally was sanctioned by city authorites, but still, at least 300 people were detained, with many of them receiving 15-day prison sentences.