Moscow [Russia], March 14 (ANI): About 200 opposition activists were detained in Moscow on Saturday, according to a statement from Russia's Ministry of Internal Affairs.
The detentions are the latest in a series of crackdowns sustained by members of the opposition following Kremlin critic Alexey Navalny's arrest and imprisonment.
CNN reported that on Saturday, municipal deputies from Russia's regions gathered in the Russian capital to discuss parliamentary and local elections -- which are scheduled for September -- at a forum held by United Democrats, a project aimed at supporting competitive election, according to their website.
Opposition activist Ilya Yashin said that 40 minutes into the event, police broke up the forum and detained around 150 deputies.
"A very symbolic end to a short forum: deputies in police vans, and masked police are twisting people's arms," Yashin said on Facebook. "But nobody promised us the freedom on a silver platter. Russia will be free anyway," he added.
Yashin also posted images on Twitter of the moment he was taken away from the forum by police and from inside the police van.
In a statement, Russia's Ministry of Internal Affairs said that around 200 people had been detained, citing a breach of coronavirus restrictions.
"In one of the hotel premises in Izmailovsky Highway, a group of residents, representatives of a public organization, made an attempt to hold a public event in violation of the established sanitary and epidemiological requirements -- a considerable part of the participants did not have personal protective facilities," the Interior Ministry statement said, as quoted by CNN.
The statement added that "besides, members of an organization whose activities are recognized as undesirable on the territory of the Russian Federation were identified among the participants," and that police stopped the "illegal actions."
On February 2, a Moscow court substituted Russian opposition figure Alexey Navalny's suspended sentence in corruption case with a real prison term of 3.5 years for multiple violations of his probation terms. A Moscow city court reinstated the ruling but reduced the sentence to 2.5 years.
For months, opposition activists have been met with a harsh show of force, demonstrated most clearly on January 31, when over 5,000 people were detained during nationwide protests in 85 cities in support of Navalny.
The Ministry of Internal Affairs said that "checks are being conducted" on the activists detained on Saturday, and that "a decision will be undertaken in compliance with the law." (ANI)