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Dozens Detained At Moscow Constitution Day Protest

Sergei Mitrokhin, the leader of the Yabloko Russian opposition party. (file photo)

At least 33 people, including the leader of Russia's opposition Yabloko party, have been detained by police at an unsanctioned rally in the center of Moscow to mark the Constitution Day holiday.

Sergei Mitrokhin was detained at the December 12 gathering on Moscow's Pushkin Square as civil-society activists tried to carry out a March of Change demonstration despite a refusal by city authorities to allow the action.

Several other Yabloko activists were also detained, as were prominent rights activists Lev Ponomaryov and Georgy Satarov.

Photos on social media from the site show a heavy police presence, including several police buses and vans.

Constitution Day marks the anniversary of a 1993 referendum under which the current Russian Constitution was adopted. It was a federal holiday until 2004 when it was downgraded to a "day of note."

Activists opposed to President Vladimir Putin say his government has systematically violated the rights guaranteed in the document, including the right to free assembly, the right to democratic elections, and the right to free speech.