MOSCOW, January 6 (RIA Novosti) – Russian police said Sunday that over 20 people were detained in downtown Moscow on Monday in what activists described as a protest against political prisoners.
Independent rights group OVD-Info said in a statement that 28 people were detained during a demonstration on Manezh Square that was held in support of a group of protesters arrested as part of the so-called Bolotnaya Case opened by the authorities in the wake of a 2012 anti-Kremlin rally that descended into a bloody melee with police.
About 20 people were detained in central Moscow and a decision was currently being taken about whether to charge them, a police spokesperson told RIA Novosti on Monday.
Photographs from the protest posted to the Twitter account of opposition leader Sergei Udaltsov showed activists holding placards calling for the release of political prisoners in Russia, and setting off flares.
The rally is part of a series of protests to be held on the 6th of every month, according to OVD-Info. The date was chosen to mark the May 6 protest in 2012 after which opposition leaders allege that dozens of people were arrested an on politically motivated charges.
President Vladimir Putin has said repeatedly that there are no political prisoners in Russia.
Some of Russia’s most high profile prisoners, including former oil tycoon Mikhail Khodorkovsky and feminist members of the punk band Pussy Riot were released from jail last month.
The move that was widely linked to an attempt by the Kremlin to improve Russia’s international image ahead of the Winter Olympics to be held next month in the Russian resort town of Sochi.
Despite expectations that those imprisoned as part of the Bolotnaya Case could also be released, they were not included in an amnesty signed by Putin in December.