Police dispersed an opposition camp in central Moscow in the early hours of Saturday, detaining about 20 people.
Activists protesting Vladimir Putin’s return to the Kremlin have been camping at central Kudrinskaya Square since Wednesday.
A riot police officer said the rally was a “public event,” and that those were prohibited after 11 p.m., a RIA Novosti correspondent reported.
Police confirmed that about 20 protesters had been detained. A police spokesman said residents in nearby houses complained about “noise and anti-sanitary conditions” at the camp.
“A decision was made to stop this event,” the spokesman said, adding that those detained will be released after being warned against violating public order.
As the camp was dispersed, a group of several dozen activists moved to the nearby Nikitsky Boulevard to continue their protest at a new site. Four police vans followed the protesters.
Several dozen opposition supporters who took part in the protest, including prominent activists Ilya Yashin and Evgenia Chirikova, were detained at Kudrinskaya Square earlier this week, most of them on charges of disobeying police orders.
The activists relocated to the square after a Moscow court outlawed their tent camp at central Chistye Prudy neighborhood on Tuesday, citing complaints by local residents.
But camp activists say the complaints are fake. Bloggers said they had identified an elderly woman who complained about vandalism, litter and late-night noise at the Chistye Prudy camp on state-run television last week as a member of the ruling United Russia party who lives several kilometers from the site of the camp.
Despite police crackdowns, the activists intend to continue their round-the-clock protest until mid-June.