Russian police detain hundreds of protesters as seven demonstrators are jailed for 2012 anti-Putin rally

The protesters blame police for the violence that erupted in Bolotnaya Square in 2012

More than a hundred protesters were detained by Russian police on Monday at a Moscow courthouse, where they were demonstrating against the imprisonment of seven opponents of President Vladimir Putin.

The demonstrators were demanding the release of the defendants, who were jailed from between two and a half to four years for an anti-government protest in central Moscow in 2012.

Protesters blame police for the violence that erupted in Bolotnaya Square two years ago.

They shouted "shame" and "Maidan" - a reference to the Kiev square that has been the focus of protests that brought the overthrow of Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovich.

Among those detained were two members of the punk protest band Pussy Riot, who were released in December near the end of two-year sentences for their own anti-Putin protest in Moscow’s main cathedral in 2012.

Top opposition leader Alexei Navalny was also held.

Relatives and lawyers of the seven said they believed that events in neighbouring Ukraine, where police were among the dead in a conflict the Kremlin blames on opposition leaders and the West, had prompted the court to impose prison sentences in a bid to deter similar actions in Russia.

Defence lawyer Dmitry Agranovsky told Reuters he would appeal his client Yaroslav Belousov's two-and-a-half-year prison sentence.

"These sentences are cruel and wrong. They were handed down because of the political situation...We hope our appeal will show that they made a mistake and the defendants won't have to answer for the Maidan."

Opposition activists said more than 230 people were detained by riot police grabbing protesters and dragging them to waiting buses. Police put the figure at more than 100.

The defendants were found guilty on Friday of rioting and attacking police at a protest on 6 May 2012, the day before Putin returned to the presidency after a stint as prime minster.

An eighth defendant was given a suspended sentence.

The defendants - seven men and a woman, most of them in their 20s - blame police for the clashes that occurred and pleaded not guilty. The men have been in custody since 2012.

The sentences are likely to draw criticism from the United States and European countries that have expressed concern about the trial and have accused Russia of restricting the freedom of assembly and expression.

Government opponents called for a protest on Manezh Square just outside the Kremlin later on Monday. Police mounted a major presence on the square ahead of the planned protest.

After reading part of the verdict on Friday, trial judge Natalya Nikishina abruptly called a break until Monday, stirring speculation the Kremlin wanted to keep the sentences under wraps until after the Olympic closing ceremony.

Putin denies interfering in court cases, but has said anyone who attacks police must be punished.

Additional reporting by Reuters


Ukraine's anti-riot police disbanded

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
News
ebooksAn unforgettable anthology of contemporary reportage
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: Warehouse Operative / Forklift Driver

£14000 - £17000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Through a combination of excell...

Recruitment Genius: Warehouse Manager

£25000 - £30000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This company are looking for a ...

Recruitment Genius: Service Plan Champion

Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: A vacancy has arisen for a Service Plan Champi...

Recruitment Genius: Service Plan Champion

Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: A vacancy has arisen for a Service Plan Champi...

Day In a Page

Sepp Blatter resignation: The beginning of Fifa's long road to reform?

Does Blatter's departure mean Fifa will automatically clean up its act?

Don't bet on it, says Tom Peck
Charles Kennedy: The baby of the House who grew into a Lib Dem giant

The baby of the House who grew into a Lib Dem giant

Charles Kennedy was consistently a man of the centre-left, dedicated to social justice, but was also a champion of liberty and an opponent of the nanny-state, says Baroness Williams
Syria civil war: The harrowing testament of a five-year-old victim of this endless conflict

The harrowing testament of a five-year-old victim of Syria's endless civil war

Sahar Qanbar lost her mother and brother as civilians and government soldiers fought side by side after being surrounded by brutal Islamist fighters. Robert Fisk visited her
The future of songwriting: How streaming is changing everything we know about making music

The future of songwriting

How streaming is changing everything we know about making music
William Shemin and Henry Johnson: Jewish and black soldiers receive World War I Medal of Honor amid claims of discrimination

Recognition at long last

Jewish and black soldiers who fought in WWI finally receive medals after claims of discrimination
Beating obesity: The new pacemaker which helps over-eaters

Beating obesity

The new pacemaker which helps over-eaters
9 best women's festival waterproofs

Ready for rain: 9 best women's festival waterproofs

These are the macs to keep your denim dry and your hair frizz-free(ish)
Cycling World Hour Record: Nervous Sir Bradley Wiggins ready for pain as he prepares to go distance

Wiggins worried

Nervous Sir Bradley ready for pain as he prepares to attempt cycling's World Hour Record
Liverpool close in on Milner signing

Liverpool close in on Milner signing

Reds baulk at Christian Benteke £32.5m release clause
On your feet! Spending at least two hours a day standing reduces the risk of heart attacks, cancer and diabetes, according to new research

On your feet!

Spending half the day standing 'reduces risk of heart attacks and cancer'
With scores of surgeries closing, what hope is there for the David Cameron's promise of 5,000 more GPs and a 24/7 NHS?

The big NHS question

Why are there so few new GPs when so many want to study medicine?
Big knickers are back: Thongs ain't what they used to be

Thongs ain't what they used to be

Big knickers are back
Thurston Moore interview

Thurston Moore interview

On living in London, Sonic Youth and musical memoirs
In full bloom

In full bloom

Floral print womenswear
From leading man to Elephant Man, Bradley Cooper is terrific

From leading man to Elephant Man

Bradley Cooper is terrific