MOSCOW - Russian police broke up anti-Kremlin protests in Moscow and St. Petersburg yesterday and detained more than 100 demonstrators, including several opposition leaders.
In Moscow, several hundred demonstrators gathered in a central square, defying a ban imposed by authorities. The protesters said the ban violated the Russian constitution’s guarantee of the citizens’ right to gather.
They denounced the policies of President Dmitry Medvedev and his predecessor and mentor, Vladimir Putin, who continues to wield broad powers as Russia’s powerful prime minister.
Protesters shouted “Shame!’’ and “Down with Putin!’’ as police in riot gear pushed them into buses.
Several dozen protesters were detained, including opposition leaders Boris Nemtsov; Eduard Limonov; Ilya Yashin; and the head of the Memorial rights group, Oleg Orlov.
Police spokesman Viktor Biryukov said that about 300 people took part in the rally, and that about 100 were detained.
Police also quickly dispersed a similar rally in St. Petersburg, detaining most of several dozen protesters who had gathered on downtown. Some of the demonstrators were beaten with truncheons.
Protests also were held yesterday in Yekaterinburg, Russia’s third-largest city, in the Ural Mountains; in Krasnoyarsk, in central Siberia; and in the far eastern port of Vladivostok. Police did not move to break them up, according to Ekho Moskvy radio.