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
ebooks
ebooksA special investigation by Andy McSmith
  • 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: Photographer / Floorplanner / Domestic Energy Assessor

£16000 - £25000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Photographer/ Floor planner /...

Ashdown Group: Front-End Developer - Surrey - £40,000

£30000 - £40000 per annum: Ashdown Group: Front-End Developer - Guildford/Craw...

Recruitment Genius: Customer Service Assistant

£13500 - £15000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Customer Service Assistant is...

Recruitment Genius: Sales Executive - OTE £35,000

£16000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: An ambitious and motivated Sale...

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