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Dozens detained in anti-corruption protests across Russia

Protesters walk along Moscow's Tverskaya street during an anti-corruption rally on March 26, 2017. (Photo by AFP)

Several dozen people were detained in protests across Russia on Sunday, after the opposition urged people to take to the streets to demonstrate against corruption and demand the resignation of Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev.

Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny said on his website that more than 80 towns and cities across Russia would hold protests on Sunday and that authorities had not sanctioned the majority of the rallies.

The Kremlin said on Friday that plans to hold a protest in the center of Moscow were an illegal provocation.

Authorities in most cities, including Moscow, refused to authorize the rallies. By midday (0900 GMT) there was a heavy police presence in the capital along the planned route of the protest, scheduled for 2:00 pm.

Police detain a protester in downtown Moscow, Russia, Sunday, March 26, 2017. (AP Photo)

Navalny called the demonstrations after publishing a detailed report this month accusing Medvedev of controlling a property empire through a shadowy network of non-profit organizations. The report has been viewed over 11 million times on YouTube but Medvedev has so far given no reaction to it.

The Kremlin critic, who has announced his intention to run for president in next year's elections, has been rallying supporters in major Russian cities in recent weeks.

In the far eastern city of Vladivostok, a Reuters’ reporter saw the detention of at least 30 protesters at an unsanctioned rally drawing hundreds of young people to a square near the city's railway station.

Russian riot police officers get ready to take positions during an unauthorized anti-corruption rally in central Moscow on March 26, 2017. (Photo by AFP)

The detentions started after protesters unfurled banners reading "Corruption steals our future" and "The prime minister should answer".

The protesters then marched to a local police station to demand that police free those who had been detained.

Hundreds also rallied in the city of Yekaterinburg in the industrial Urals region.

Witnesses said at least four people holding banners were detained on the city's Labour Square, where opposition protesters, nationalists and supporters of the pro-Kremlin United Russia party gathered.

Police detain a protester in downtown Moscow, Russia, Sunday, March 26, 2017. (AP Photo)

Police said 500 to 700 people had gathered on Labour Square but did not confirm that there had been any detentions.

"Corruption affects every person. The fight against corruption can unite all people irrespective of their convictions," 20-year-old student Ivan told Reuters, asking that his last name not be published.

The Russian constitution allows public gatherings but recent laws have criminalized protests unauthorized by city authorities, who frequently refuse to grant permission for rallies by Kremlin critics.

Local media estimated about 1,500 people turned out in each of the Siberian cities of Krasnoyarsk and Omsk.

In most places authorities had not authorized the rallies, and some of those who turned up to protest were detained by police.

Authorities had also pressured students not to attend, and some cities even scheduled exams on a Sunday, according to reports.

(Source: Agencies)

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