MOSCOW – A demonstration by at least 20,000 people on the eve of Vladimir Putin’s inauguration as president turned into a battle with police Sunday after some protesters tried to split off from the approved venue and march to the Kremlin.
Club-wielding officers wearing helmets seized demonstrators and hauled them to police vehicles, dragging some by the hair, others by the neck. Several protesters were injured, including one man with blood dripping from his head down the left side of his face.
Three leaders of the opposition movement that gained new life over the winter were among those arrested: Sergei Udaltsov, Alexei Navalny and Boris Nemtsov.
More than 400 people were arrested, and Russia’s chief investigative agency said it was considering filing criminal charges of inciting riots against some of them. Police reported that 12 riot police officers were injured.
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