Hundreds arrested as protests greet Vladimir Putin inauguration

Violent clashes in Moscow as Russian leader prepares to be sworn in as President

Moscow

At least six people were taken to hospital, and around 15 riot police injured, while many opposition leaders were among nearly 600 people to be detained. Vladimir Putin's spokesman, Dmitry Peskov, said the Moscow police had acted "softly" and should have been even more forceful.

The Russian leader won around 63 per cent of the vote in a March election, which gave him another presidential term after a four-year break during which he was prime minister. The opposition, a motley group of leftists, nationalists and democrats, alleged irregularities and branded Mr Putin's win illegitimate.

"We know that this isn't going to affect anything for now," said Margarita, 54, wearing the white ribbon protesters use to symbolise their opposition to Mr Putin. "But it was important to come out again and shout as loud as we can that there are normal, civilised people in this country who don't support the thief who is sitting in the Kremlin."

Protests began after parliamentary elections last December and brought tens of thousands of people on to the streets of Moscow several times. There was a sense the protest mood had died down as people realised Mr Putin's return was inevitable. But yesterday's events will make the Kremlin think again.

Riot police were massed in their thousands on Bolshoi Kamenny Bridge, which leads from Bolotnaya Square to the Kremlin, to ensure no protesters could make their way towards the seat of Russian power. Police used tear gas and made several arrests, dragging the detainees along the asphalt and also beating them with batons.

For perhaps the first time, protesters resisted en masse. In one skirmish, a riot police helmet went flying in the air, before its former owner emerged into the crowd with blood streaming down his face. He then lashed out at all those around him before colleagues dragged him away.

The police dispersed the crowds as evening fell, and anyone who did not oblige was detained and driven away to police stations. Opposition leaders could now face 15-day jail terms.

Suggested Topics
Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Senior IT Support / Projects Engineer

£26000 - £29000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an exciting opportunity...

Recruitment Genius: Bench Joiner & Wood Machinist

£20000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This busy local Joinery company...

Recruitment Genius: Financial Adviser

£20000 - £60000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Are you recently QCA Level 4 qu...

Recruitment Genius: Senior Director - Product Management

£75000 - £85000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: They are the largest and fastes...

Day In a Page

Not even the 'putrid throat' could stop the Ross Poldark swoon-fest'

Not even the 'putrid throat' could stop the Ross Poldark swoon-fest'

How a costume drama became a Sunday night staple
Miliband promises no stamp duty for first-time buyers as he pushes Tories on housing

Miliband promises no stamp duty for first-time buyers

Labour leader pushes Tories on housing
Aviation history is littered with grand failures - from the the Bristol Brabazon to Concorde - but what went wrong with the SuperJumbo?

Aviation history is littered with grand failures

But what went wrong with the SuperJumbo?
Fear of Putin, Islamists and immigration is giving rise to a new generation of Soviet-style 'iron curtains' right across Europe

Fortress Europe?

Fear of Putin, Islamists and immigration is giving rise to a new generation of 'iron curtains'
Never mind what you're wearing, it's what you're reclining on

Never mind what you're wearing

It's what you're reclining on that matters
General Election 2015: Chuka Umunna on the benefits of immigration, humility – and his leader Ed Miliband

Chuka Umunna: A virus of racism runs through Ukip

The shadow business secretary on the benefits of immigration, humility – and his leader Ed Miliband
Yemen crisis: This exotic war will soon become Europe's problem

Yemen's exotic war will soon affect Europe

Terrorism and boatloads of desperate migrants will be the outcome of the Saudi air campaign, says Patrick Cockburn
Marginal Streets project aims to document voters in the run-up to the General Election

Marginal Streets project documents voters

Independent photographers Joseph Fox and Orlando Gili are uploading two portraits of constituents to their website for each day of the campaign
Game of Thrones: Visit the real-life kingdom of Westeros to see where violent history ends and telly tourism begins

The real-life kingdom of Westeros

Is there something a little uncomfortable about Game of Thrones shooting in Northern Ireland?
How to survive a social-media mauling, by the tough women of Twitter

How to survive a Twitter mauling

Mary Beard, Caroline Criado-Perez, Louise Mensch, Bunny La Roche and Courtney Barrasford reveal how to trounce the trolls
Gallipoli centenary: At dawn, the young remember the young who perished in one of the First World War's bloodiest battles

At dawn, the young remember the young

A century ago, soldiers of the Empire – many no more than boys – spilt on to Gallipoli’s beaches. On this 100th Anzac Day, there are personal, poetic tributes to their sacrifice
Dissent is slowly building against the billions spent on presidential campaigns – even among politicians themselves

Follow the money as never before

Dissent is slowly building against the billions spent on presidential campaigns – even among politicians themselves, reports Rupert Cornwell
Samuel West interview: The actor and director on austerity, unionisation, and not mentioning his famous parents

Samuel West interview

The actor and director on austerity, unionisation, and not mentioning his famous parents
General Election 2015: Imagine if the leading political parties were fashion labels

Imagine if the leading political parties were fashion labels

Fashion editor, Alexander Fury, on what the leaders' appearances tell us about them
Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka: Home can be the unsafest place for women

Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka: Home can be the unsafest place for women

The architect of the HeForShe movement and head of UN Women on the world's failure to combat domestic violence