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Police Detain More Than 260 Antigovernment Protesters In Moscow

Russian riot police detain an opposition activist during a protest rally in central Moscow on November 5.

Russian authorities detained more than 260 people as nationalists gathered in central Moscow for an antigovernment rally coinciding with celebrations of Russia's National Unity Day holiday.

The Interior Ministry said police detained 263 people at the unsanctioned demonstration on Manezh Square by the Kremlin walls on November 5.

OVD-Info, which monitors crackdowns on demonstrations, put the number of people detained in the capital at nearly 300.

It said more than 20 people were also held at rallies in St. Petersburg, Krasnodar, Krasnoyarsk, Perm, and Rostov-on-Don, without providing further details.

TASS news agency quoted an unidentified law enforcement official as saying many of those detained in Moscow were carrying knives, brass knuckles, and pistols that could fire rubber bullets.

Police picked up the protesters one by one close to the Kremlin, according to an AFP photographer.

Reuters reported that police detained a few dozen people on a Moscow street, although none of those detained had any posters or were chanting slogans.

A reporter for the radio station Ekho Moskvy, Andrei Yezhov, wrote on Twitter that he was detained and that most of those held were in their early 20s. He said he was was later released without charge.

OVD-Info, which monitors crackdowns on demonstrations, said on November 5 that 25 people were also detained at rallies in St. Petersburg, Krasnodar, Krasnoyarsk, Perm, and Rostov-on-Don.

It did not provide further details.

On November 4, police detained dozens of nationalist demonstrators at an antigovernment rally in Moscow.

Self-exiled Kremlin critic Vyacheslav Maltsev said on YouTube that Russia is up for a "revolution" this weekend.

Maltsev, who has described himself as a nationalist and anarchist, is the leader of the Artpodgotovka (Artillery Bombardment) movement.

Russia’s Federal Security Service (FSB) on November 3 said it had detained several members of a "conspiratorial cell" of Artpodgotovka in the Moscow area, claiming they were plotting to trigger riots by attacking government buildings and police.

The RBK news agency cited an unidentified Interior Ministry source as saying that a spate of additional raids targeting Maltsev's group were carried out in Moscow and the surrounding area on early on November 4.

Maltsev fled Russia in July after authorities launched an investigation into his statements. He was charged in absentia in May with making public calls for extremist activities, while his movement Artpodgotovka was banned by a court in October.

Putin established National Unity Day in 2005, replacing Soviet-era celebrations of the Bolshevik Revolution anniversary. It officially honors a Russian victory over Polish forces in 1612.

This year's celebrations come amid the centennial of the 1917 Bolshevik Revolution.

With reporting by TASS and AFP