Alwaght- Russian police arrested more than 1,300 people in Moscow on Saturday in a crackdown against a protest organized by liberal opposition figures, demanding places on the ballot ahead of September's council elections.
Authorities had declared the demonstration illegal and sought to block participation, but reportedly some 5,000 people turned up anyway in one of the longest and most determined protests of recent years.
The confrontation began just after lunchtime, as marchers met a large security presence around the capital's central Tverskaya Street, where the Moscow Mayor's office is located, Russia Today reported.
Chants of "Russia without Putin" and "Putin resign" echoed through central Moscow as guardsmen clad in riot gear beat back protesters with batons and roughly detained people, Reuters reported.
Protestors who tried to break through police lines were pushed back onto side streets, with batons used to disperse. Business daily RBC reported that the charge was met by bottles.
Jailed opposition leader Alexei Navalny had called for Saturday's protest to persuade officials to allow opposition-minded candidates to run in a Sept. 8 vote.
Authorities say they were barred because they failed to collect sufficient genuine signatures in their support.
Saturday's events followed a rally seven days previously, which attracted between 12,000 (police figures) and 22,000 (opposition numbers). That event passed off peacefully, but the liberal candidates upped the ante when they supported protest leader Alexey Navalny's call for a march on City Hall, which was never likely to receive official approval.
The standoff began when Moscow's election commission disqualified a number of independent candidates, hoping to run in September's City Council race, due to paperwork irregularities. Some of those affected said the decision was illegal and made under false pretexts.
There are 45 seats up for grabs and getting on the ballot requires collecting a certain number of signatures from voters in the constituency that the candidate seeks to represent. The commission may disqualify a candidate if it believes a significant percentage of the signatures submitted are not genuine. The commission said it disqualified 57 people and registered 233 as candidates.