A prominent Russian communist was detained in Moscow on Saturday during a day of opposition protests over the hardships caused by the global financial crisis.
Police detained writer Eduard Limonov, head of the outlawed National Bolshevik Party, and around 10 party activists after they attempted to join an authorised Communist Party protest.
A few kilometres (miles) away, some 100 members of chess champion Garry Kasparov's United Civic Front and allied liberal groups were attacked by young men wearing surgical masks and wielding flagpoles.
The protesters, some of them bloodied in the fight, briefly resumed their march before dispersing. Minutes later, riot police arrived on the scene and began detaining people they suspected of participating in the unsanctioned demonstration.
Opposition groups had called for a Russia-wide day of protest over the Kremlin's handling of the financial crisis, which has cost thousands of Russian jobs. A fast-weakening rouble, which has lost over a fifth of its value since November to adjust to a dive in commodity and oil prices, has added to the general hardship.
Earlier, the Communist Party led some 2,000 protesters on an unsanctioned march in the Pacific port city of Vladivostok.
It passed peacefully with police keeping a close eye on protestors carrying banners that said "Kremlin, we are against you".
Last month riot police in Vladivostok detained 100 people in a crackdown that highlighted official sensitivity to growing anger over the efficacy of its efforts to tackle the slowdown.
Kremlin-backed political party United Russia countered the anti-government protests by bringing their own supporters out to the streets of Russia's cities in support of government plans to spend over a trillion roubles to shore up the economy.
Around 3,000 people came to United Russia's rally in Vladivostok, most of them students and pensioners, and doctors and teachers whose salaries are financed by budget money.
In a separate protest that was also unauthorised, about 20 Limonov supporters, holding flares and setting off smoke bombs, rallied near a suburban Moscow metro station where a party member was found dead earlier this month.
Meanwhile, in the provincial city of Ulyanovsk, police held a regional leader from ex-Prime Minister Mikhail Kasyanov's liberal opposition party, Kasyanov's spokeswoman told Ekho Moskvy radio. She could not be immediately reached for comment.
ReutersLast Mod: 31 Ocak 2009, 17:49