Russian police on Wednesday detained 142 people, including a high-profile Moscow politician, after Kremlin critics protested against changes to the constitution, said the OVD-Info monitor, which tracks arrests at political protests.
Many people, including journalists, were put in police vehicles, Agence France-Presse correspondents said from the scene.
An AFP journalist was also briefly detained.
Prominent Moscow City Councilor Yulia Galyamina, who has spearheaded a campaign against Russian President Vladimir Putin’s controversial changes to the constitution, was among those detained, together with her daughter, she wrote on Facebook.
The constitutional changes could see Putin stay in power for another 16 years.
Earlier on Wednesday, Galyamina and her allies gathered in Moscow’s central Pushkin Square despite rainy weather to collect signatures from hundreds of supporters against this month’s constitutional reforms, to contest them in court.
“We are lodging a class action lawsuit,” Andrei Pivovarov said as he gathered signatures on the steps of a statue of national poet Alexander Pushkin. “We are collecting signatures from across the country.”
Writing later on Twitter, Galyamina said they had gathered 5,000 signatures.
“This is an excellent result,” she wrote.
At one point the campaigners had to pause because they ran out of paper, they said.
Some protesters brandished placards, while others chanted “Russia without Putin” and “Russia will be free.”
Maria Alyokhina of Pussy Riot also attended the gathering, calling the amendments a “constitutional coup.”
Putin earlier this month oversaw a controversial seven-day vote that amended the constitution and allows him to serve two more six-year terms after his mandate expires in 2024.
The amendments also included populist measures such as an effective ban on same-sex marriage.
Leading opposition politician Alexei Navalny has said that the poll set “a record in faking votes” and the result had “nothing in common with people’s views.”
Many in Pushkin Square said that they had turned up to protest the changes championed by Putin.
“I voted against,” said Inna Golovina, a 46-year-old accountant. “People say the results were rigged.”
Moscow City Councilor Pavel Tarasov said that he would have liked to leave his signature, but the crowd was too big.
“The results of the vote do not suit anyone,” he said.
A large group of mostly younger people later split off and marched along central Moscow streets, before many were roughly detained.
Galyamina was detained in Pushkin Square after the event was over.
“The authorities do whatever they want, people’s opinion does not interest anybody,” Andrei Stepanov, 50, said. “We need to show in some way that we are against this.”
Anatoly Naidyonov, 38, compared the Russian president to a “pharaoh who is completely detached from reality.”
“This can all end badly for the country,” he added.
Up to 1,000 people gathered for a similar event in St Petersburg, an AFP correspondent said.
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