Riot police drove out protesters from their latest camp in the Russian capital in what appeared to be a determined effort to put an end to antigovernment sit-ins.
In an early morning raid police chased protesters from the Kudrinskaya Square in central Moscow using loudspeakers to warn them that their action was “unsanctioned” and met with complaints from local residents. Twenty people who refused to comply were detained, police said.
About 50 activists relocated to Nikitsky Boulevard about three kilometres away, but police swooped down on them there too, detaining several more people. However, about 100 protesters gathered again in Arbat Street less than a kilometre away, determined to continue their round-the-clock vigil.
City authorities are demonstrating growing impatience with the Occupy-type protests against Vladimir Putin's return as President earlier this month.
While the first camp was uprooted on the basis of a court ruling, the second camp on the Kudrinskaya Square was shut down without any court hearings.
Moscow artists are planning a Nomadic Museum march for Saturday night. Organisers said police could had massed near the place and pulled up vans. Artists are going to push and pull their works through the capital in support of the freedom of assembly.
Meanwhile authorities are planning to finalise next week plans for setting up a permanent place in Moscow for political gatherings, a Russian version of the London Hyde Park with its speakers' corner.