Russian authorities Sunday cordoned off Moscow's iconic Red Square and arrested 55 opposition supporters to prevent a rally against Vladimir Putin, who is due to take up his old Kremlin job.
All access roads to the central square were blocked off, an AFP reporter said, adding that police arrested dozens of supporters of the "Russia Without Putin" movement.
It came as others shouted slogans against prime minister Putin, who was elected for a third presidential term on March 4 with over 63 percent of the vote despite months of protests against his regime.
Police arrested 55 people "for trying to stage an unauthorised demonstration," the Itar-Tass news agency said. "Red Square is closed," Moscow police added in a statement.
More than 80 people were arrested in Moscow and Saint Petersburg on Saturday as police broke off unauthorised demonstrations against Putin.
Saturday's rally was part of the opposition's long-running campaign to uphold Article 31 of the constitution which guarantees freedom of assembly.
The prospects of Putin's return and the fraud-tainted polls that helped the ruling party keep its parliamentary majority in December fuelled mass protests not seen in Moscow since the days of the Soviet Union's collapse.© ANP/AFP