Riot police have detained some 50 protesters who picketed Moscow's television tower on March 18 to register anger over a state television broadcast that appeared aimed at smearing the country's political opposition, RFE/RL's Russian Service reports.
The unsanctioned protest action followed state-controlled NTV's airing of footage purporting to show people being paid to rally against Vladimir Putin, who was declared the winner of a March 4 presidential election.
A crowd of several hundred people gathered outside Moscow’s Ostankino tower, chanting "Shame on NTV!" and "Russia without Putin."
Opposition leaders Boris Nemtsov and Sergei Udaltsov were among those who were taken away by police.
Putin and his allies have repeatedly sought to paint political opponents and protest organizers as disloyal and in the employ of foreign governments like the United States.
The NTV news program at issue suggested the opposition had accepted funds from Washington and was paying ordinary citizens to participate in its rallies.
The March 18 event outside Moscow’s Ostankino tower was announced through a page organized by the opposition on Facebook.
A pro-Putin youth group had also vowed to show up at the television tower.
On March 17, Moscow police briefly detained more than 20 demonstrators
protesting Vladimir Putin’s return to the presidency and the airing of the television report.
With AP and AFP reporting