March 11, 9:45
MOSCOW, December 15 (Itar-Tass) —— Police detained about 40 people for participating in an unauthorised event at Moscow’s central Lubyanka Square on Saturday, December 15.
“After repeated warnings by police that the event was not authorised, some of the people obeyed the legitimate demands of the police. But law enforcers had to detain those who continued unlawful actions. About 40 people were taken to police stations for proceedings in accordance with effective legislation,” the press service of the city’s interior department told Itar-Tass.
“As of now, the unauthorised event in the square has been stopped and no serious provocations occurred,” it added.
Earlier in the day police detained opposition activists Sergei Udaltsov, Alexei Navalny, Ilya Yashin and TV anchor Ksenia Sobchak. Udaltsov, Yashin and Sobchak was detained as “the organisers and abettors who urged people to organise an unauthorised event”, police said.
All four of them are now at the Tekstilshchiki district police station. “They are taking our explanations. What charges will be brought against us is not clear yet,” Udaltsov said. “Another seven activists are here together with us,” he added.
The Moscow city authorities offered several alternative routes for an opposition march on December 15, but its organisers rejected the offer and kept insisting that the march should end at Lubyanka Square in the park where the Solovki Memorial Stone stands because one of their key slogans was “Freedom to political prisoners!”
About 2,000 people had agreed on the Facebook social network to take part in the march although such events had used to gather several times more people before. The latest opposition events allowed by the authorities brought together fewer and fewer people, and the protest movement started after the Duma elections last December had started to subside.
The Moscow Prosecutor’s Office had sent notices to the opposition leaders, who were urging people to attend such events, warning them against breaking the law and reminding them of the consequences of that.