Russia’s most prominent opposition leader, Alexei Navalny, has been held at a Moscow rally two days before Vladimir Putin’s inauguration.
Alexei Navalny was carried away struggling through the crowd of demonstrators, who had gathered to protest at President Putin’s forthcoming fourth term in office.
Moscow and St Petersburg rallies were not approved by the authorities.
At least 1,000 arrests were reportedly made at rallies across Russia.
On May 6, Alexei Navalny was released from police custody after being charged with organizing a rally and resisting the police.
Protesters on Moscow’s Pushkin Square shouted slogans such as “Down with the tsar!” – “tsar” was the historical title of Russia’s pre-revolutionary emperors – and “Russia without Putin!”. In St Petersburg, Russia’s second city, they shouted “Jail the tsar!”.
Activists have been using a Russian hash tag on Twitter which translates as “He’s not our tsar”.
Meanwhile, the pro-Kremlin National Liberation Movement held a rival rally at the same location in Moscow.
Alexei Navalny, a long-time anti-corruption campaigner is not an elected politician but has led protests against the rule of Vladimir Putin and his allies since the parliamentary election of 2011.
The activist was barred from running for president against Vladimir Putin this year because of a conviction for embezzlement, which he denies, saying the case against him was politically motivated.
Alexei Navalny has been arrested at protests on numerous occasions before, and is typically held for a few weeks before being released.
Reports say he was forced to stay at a secret location on May 4 in order to make it to the Moscow rally at all.
When the Moscow city authorities warned people of possible “negative consequences” of taking part in unsanctioned rallies on May 5, Alexei Navalny tweeted back: “And I would like to warn everyone of the negative consequences of non-participation in the rallies.”
He added: “If you stay at home, Putin’s gang will tear the country apart and deprive you personally of a future.”
Vladimir Putin was re-elected president with more than 76% of the vote, his best ever election performance.