Russian police on Saturday arrested 176 people during protests against Moscow’s military operation in Ukraine, an NGO said.
OVD-Info, which monitors arrests during protests, said police arrested at least 176 people during protests in 14 cities across Russia.
An AFP reporter in Moscow witnessed more than 20 people detained by riot police amid heavy snowfall in the central park of the capital Zaryadye, a short distance from the Kremlin.
Police escorted people sitting on park benches or simply standing without explaining the reasons for the detention, the reporter said.
One of the detainees held a bouquet of white tulips, while another repeatedly exclaimed “No to war in Ukraine!” as she was taken away.
A nationwide sit-in on Saturday against what Moscow calls its “military operation” in Ukraine was announced on social media by activists in some 30 Russian cities.
Organizers said in a statement they wanted to protest the “collapse of the (Russian) economy” against Russian President Vladimir Putin and demand the release of jailed Kremlin critic Alexei Navalny.
“Russia deserves peace, democracy and prosperity,” they said.
In Russia’s second largest city, St Petersburg, AFP saw multiple arrests near the city’s Legislative Assembly where around 40 people gathered, although it’s unclear how many were there to protest .
“No one will come, all assets have been arrested in previous protests,” said Sergei Gorelov, 30, who said he came “to take a look and show support if needed.”
“I just came to stand up, to kind of express my protest against everything that’s going on. It’s scary to actively protest,” Galina Sedova, 50, told AFP.
Protesters risk fines and possible jail time by taking to the streets.
OVD-Info reports that more than 15,000 people have been arrested at rallies across the country to protest Russian military action in Ukraine, which was launched on February 24.