MOSCOW, June 27 (RIA Novosti) – Police have released more than 40 people detained in central Moscow late Wednesday during a rally to mark the 50th birthday of former oil tycoon Mikhail Khodorkovsky who has spent almost a decade behind bars.
“On Wednesday, near a monument to Bulat Okudzhava on Arbat, a group of citizens held unsanctioned [public] events, during which police warned them of violating the law on public gatherings,” a spokesman for the Moscow police department said. “In total, more than 40 people were detained.”
Earlier in the evening several hundred supporters of Yukos founder Khodorkovsky held a protest on Tverskoy Bulvar, which was sanctioned by police, and the group arrested later on Arbat had taken part in that gathering, according to multiple media reports.
The opposition-leaning Novaya Gazeta daily said 200 people marched along Old Arbat after leaving the officials protest, “without chanting slogans and kept their banners folded.”
The rally was one of several small gatherings held across Russia to mark Khodorkovsky’s birthday. About 40 people turned up earlier in the day to such an event in the Siberian city of Tomsk, according to police.
Prior to his arrest in 2003, Khodorkovsky was Russia’s richest man and used his position to accuse President Vladimir Putin’s government of rampant corruption, and lavishly fund opposition parties. He is scheduled to be released in early 2014.
Recasts headline, lead, and updates information about the release of all detainees