MOSCOW - Russian authorities closed Moscow's Red Square on Sunday and detained dozens of people trying to hold a silent anti-government protest there, prompting opposition charges that they were denying Russians their right to free assembly.
Several hundred people responded to calls on the Internet to gather in Red Square outside the Kremlin wearing white ribbons or clothing as a symbol of protest, but found the iron gates to the sprawling square closed.Police detained four people heading for the square from a nearby subway station, and later picked people out of the crowd at the gates and pushed them into buses. A police spokesman said about 55 people had been detained near Red Square "for attempting to hold an unsanctioned demonstration."
Opposition leaders say the government violates Russians' constitutional right to free assembly by requiring permission from local authorities for street demonstrations. Police often disperse unsanctioned rallies and detain protesters.
"There are no freedoms, no rights, and Putin is always being shown on all the TV channels," said Inna Bachina, 48, director of a metal products wholesaler, standing outside the Red Square gates with her daughter. "I do not consider Putin my president."