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140 including a Moscow politician arrested during protests Putin’s constitutional reforms

Russian police arrested more than 140 people including a prominent Moscow politician and her daughter yesterday during protests over constitutional reforms which will allow Putin to stay in power until 2036. 

The OVD-Info monitor group, which tracks arrests at political protests, said 142 people were detained Wednesday evening. Many people including journalists were put in police vehicles, AFP correspondents said from the scene.

An AFP journalist was also briefly detained.

Yulia Galyamina, a prominent Moscow city councillor who has spearheaded a campaign against President Vladimir Putin’s controversial changes to the constitution, was among those detained together with her daughter, she said on Facebook.

The constitutional changes could see President Vladimir Putin stay in power for another 16 years. 

Police officers detain participants of a protest against the results of July 1 national vote which approved reforms to the Russian constitution, including a reset for President Vladimir Putin's constitutional term limit that allows him to run two more times and remain in power until 2036, in downtown Moscow last night

Police officers detain participants of a protest against the results of July 1 national vote which approved reforms to the Russian constitution, including a reset for President Vladimir Putin’s constitutional term limit that allows him to run two more times and remain in power until 2036, in downtown Moscow last night

Police officers detain a protester during a rally to cancel the results of voting on amendments to the Constitution in Pushkin Square in Moscow, Russia last night

Police officers detain a protester during a rally to cancel the results of voting on amendments to the Constitution in Pushkin Square in Moscow, Russia last night

Police officers detain a protester during a rally to cancel the results of voting on amendments to the Constitution in Pushkin Square in Moscow, Russia last night

Police officers detain a participant of a protest against the results of July 1 national vote which approved reforms to the Russian constitution, including a reset for President Vladimir Putin's constitutional term limit that allows him to run two more times and remain in power until 2036, in downtown Moscow last night

Police officers detain a participant of a protest against the results of July 1 national vote which approved reforms to the Russian constitution, including a reset for President Vladimir Putin's constitutional term limit that allows him to run two more times and remain in power until 2036, in downtown Moscow last night

Police officers detain a participant of a protest against the results of July 1 national vote which approved reforms to the Russian constitution, including a reset for President Vladimir Putin’s constitutional term limit that allows him to run two more times and remain in power until 2036, in downtown Moscow last night

Protesters lie on Petrovka Street in central Moscow during an unauthorised rally following the results of the 2020 Russian constitutional referendum, last night

Protesters lie on Petrovka Street in central Moscow during an unauthorised rally following the results of the 2020 Russian constitutional referendum, last night

Protesters lie on Petrovka Street in central Moscow during an unauthorised rally following the results of the 2020 Russian constitutional referendum, last night

Police officers detain a protester during a rally to cancel the results of voting on amendments to the Constitution in Moscow, Russia, last night. Earlier this month a group of opposition activists called for a protest against the constitutional reform that allows Russian President Vladimir Putin to stay in power until 2036.

Police officers detain a protester during a rally to cancel the results of voting on amendments to the Constitution in Moscow, Russia, last night. Earlier this month a group of opposition activists called for a protest against the constitutional reform that allows Russian President Vladimir Putin to stay in power until 2036.

Police officers detain a protester during a rally to cancel the results of voting on amendments to the Constitution in Moscow, Russia, last night. Earlier this month a group of opposition activists called for a protest against the constitutional reform that allows Russian President Vladimir Putin to stay in power until 2036.

Earlier Wednesday Galyamina and her allies gathered in Moscow’s central Pushkin Square despite rainy weather to collect signatures from hundreds of supporters against this month’s constitutional reforms, to contest them in court.

‘We are lodging a class action lawsuit,’ activist Andrei Pivovarov told AFP as he gathered the signatures on the steps of a statue of national poet Alexander Pushkin dominating the square.

‘We are collecting signatures from across the country,’ he said. 

Writing later on Twitter, Galyamina said they had gathered 5,000 signatures. ‘This is an excellent result,’ she said.

Protesters gather to take part in a protest against amendments to Russia's Constitution in Moscow yesterday

Protesters gather to take part in a protest against amendments to Russia's Constitution in Moscow yesterday

Protesters gather to take part in a protest against amendments to Russia’s Constitution in Moscow yesterday 

Police officers try to detain a protester as a scuffle breaks out during a rally to cancel the results of voting on amendments to the Constitution in Moscow, Russia, yesterday. Earlier this month a group of opposition activists called for a protest against the constitutional reform that allows Russian President Vladimir Putin to stay in power until 2036

Police officers try to detain a protester as a scuffle breaks out during a rally to cancel the results of voting on amendments to the Constitution in Moscow, Russia, yesterday. Earlier this month a group of opposition activists called for a protest against the constitutional reform that allows Russian President Vladimir Putin to stay in power until 2036

Police officers try to detain a protester as a scuffle breaks out during a rally to cancel the results of voting on amendments to the Constitution in Moscow, Russia, yesterday. Earlier this month a group of opposition activists called for a protest against the constitutional reform that allows Russian President Vladimir Putin to stay in power until 2036

Russian police officers detain a protester during an unauthorized rally following the results of the vote on amendments to the Russian Constitution in the Pushkinskaya square in Moscow, Russia, last night

Russian police officers detain a protester during an unauthorized rally following the results of the vote on amendments to the Russian Constitution in the Pushkinskaya square in Moscow, Russia, last night

Russian police officers detain a protester during an unauthorized rally following the results of the vote on amendments to the Russian Constitution in the Pushkinskaya square in Moscow, Russia, last night

Security forces take protesters into custody during a demonstration against July 1 constitutional referendum, that could keep Russian President Vladimir Putin remain in power until 2036, in Moscow, Russia last night

Security forces take protesters into custody during a demonstration against July 1 constitutional referendum, that could keep Russian President Vladimir Putin remain in power until 2036, in Moscow, Russia last night

Security forces take protesters into custody during a demonstration against July 1 constitutional referendum, that could keep Russian President Vladimir Putin remain in power until 2036, in Moscow, Russia last night

Security forces take protesters into custody during a demonstration against July 1 constitutional referendum, that could keep Russian President Vladimir Putin remain in power until 2036, in Moscow, Russia last night

Security forces take protesters into custody during a demonstration against July 1 constitutional referendum, that could keep Russian President Vladimir Putin remain in power until 2036, in Moscow, Russia last night

Security forces take protesters into custody during a demonstration against July 1 constitutional referendum, that could keep Russian President Vladimir Putin remain in power until 2036, in Moscow, Russia last night

At one point the campaigners had to pause because they quickly ran out of paper, they said.

Some protesters brandished placards, while others chanted ‘Russia without Putin’ and ‘Russia will be free.’

Activist Maria Alyokhina of Pussy Riot fame also turned up, calling the amendments a ‘constitutional coup.’

Earlier this month Putin, 67, oversaw a deeply controversial seven-day vote that amended the constitution and now allows him to serve two more six-year terms after his mandate expires in 2024.

Police officers detain a participant of a protest against amendments to Russia's Constitution and the results of a nationwide vote on constitutional reforms, in Moscow, Russia yesterday

Police officers detain a participant of a protest against amendments to Russia's Constitution and the results of a nationwide vote on constitutional reforms, in Moscow, Russia yesterday

Police officers detain a participant of a protest against amendments to Russia’s Constitution and the results of a nationwide vote on constitutional reforms, in Moscow, Russia yesterday

Police officers apprehend a protester during demonstrations against amendments to Russia's Constitution and the results of a nationwide vote on constitutional reforms, in Moscow, Russia yesterday

Police officers apprehend a protester during demonstrations against amendments to Russia's Constitution and the results of a nationwide vote on constitutional reforms, in Moscow, Russia yesterday

Police officers apprehend a protester during demonstrations against amendments to Russia’s Constitution and the results of a nationwide vote on constitutional reforms, in Moscow, Russia yesterday 

Police officers detain a man during of a protest against amendments to Russia's Constitution and the results of a nationwide vote on constitutional reforms, in Moscow, Russia yesterday

Police officers detain a man during of a protest against amendments to Russia's Constitution and the results of a nationwide vote on constitutional reforms, in Moscow, Russia yesterday

Police officers detain a man during of a protest against amendments to Russia’s Constitution and the results of a nationwide vote on constitutional reforms, in Moscow, Russia yesterday

LGBT activists take part in a protest against amendments to Russia's Constitution in Moscow yesterday. The placard reads: "I don't recognise the authority that keeps me from having a family"

LGBT activists take part in a protest against amendments to Russia's Constitution in Moscow yesterday. The placard reads: "I don't recognise the authority that keeps me from having a family"

LGBT activists take part in a protest against amendments to Russia’s Constitution in Moscow yesterday. The placard reads: ‘I don’t recognise the authority that keeps me from having a family’

The amendments also included populist measures such as an effective ban on gay marriage.

Leading opposition politician Alexei Navalny has said the poll had set ‘a record in faking votes’ and the result had ‘nothing in common with people’s views’.

Many in Pushkin Square said they had turned up to protest the changes championed by Putin who can now potentially stay in the Kremlin until 2036.

‘I voted against,’ Inna Golovina, a 46-year-old accountant, told AFP. ‘People say the results were rigged.’

Pavel Tarasov, a young Moscow city councillor representing the Communist Party, said he would like to leave his signature but the crowd was too big.

‘The results of the vote do not suit anyone,’ he said.

A participant holds a placard during a protest against amendments to Russia's Constitution and the results of a nationwide vote on constitutional reforms, in Saint Petersburg, Russia yesterday. The placard reads: 'I thought my life is about serving the people, but now I realise it's a damn usurpation of power'

A participant holds a placard during a protest against amendments to Russia's Constitution and the results of a nationwide vote on constitutional reforms, in Saint Petersburg, Russia yesterday. The placard reads: 'I thought my life is about serving the people, but now I realise it's a damn usurpation of power'

A participant holds a placard during a protest against amendments to Russia’s Constitution and the results of a nationwide vote on constitutional reforms, in Saint Petersburg, Russia yesterday. The placard reads: ‘I thought my life is about serving the people, but now I realise it’s a damn usurpation of power’

Police officers detain a man with a press badge during a protest against amendments to Russia's Constitution and the results of a nationwide vote on constitutional reforms, in Moscow, Russia yesterday

Police officers detain a man with a press badge during a protest against amendments to Russia's Constitution and the results of a nationwide vote on constitutional reforms, in Moscow, Russia yesterday

Police officers detain a man with a press badge during a protest against amendments to Russia’s Constitution and the results of a nationwide vote on constitutional reforms, in Moscow, Russia yesterday 

A participant holds a placard during a protest against amendments to Russia's Constitution and the results of a nationwide vote on constitutional reforms, in Moscow, Russia yesterday. The placard reads: 'I am/We are the Constitution of Russia'

A participant holds a placard during a protest against amendments to Russia's Constitution and the results of a nationwide vote on constitutional reforms, in Moscow, Russia yesterday. The placard reads: 'I am/We are the Constitution of Russia'

A participant holds a placard during a protest against amendments to Russia’s Constitution and the results of a nationwide vote on constitutional reforms, in Moscow, Russia yesterday. The placard reads: ‘I am/We are the Constitution of Russia’

Police officers detain demonstrators at a protest against amendments to Russia's Constitution and the results of a nationwide vote on constitutional reforms, in Moscow, Russia yesterday

Police officers detain demonstrators at a protest against amendments to Russia's Constitution and the results of a nationwide vote on constitutional reforms, in Moscow, Russia yesterday

Police officers detain demonstrators at a protest against amendments to Russia’s Constitution and the results of a nationwide vote on constitutional reforms, in Moscow, Russia yesterday

A large group of mostly young activists later split off and marched along central Moscow streets before many were roughly detained.

Galyamina was detained in Pushkin Square after the signature-collecting event was over.

Up to a thousand people gathered for a similar event in the second city of Saint Petersburg, an AFP correspondent said.

‘The authorities do whatever they want, people’s opinion does not interest anybody,’ lamented Andrei Stepanov, 50.

‘We need to show in some way that we are against this.’

Law enforcement detain a protester during demonstrations against amendments to Russia's Constitution in Moscow, Russia yesterday

Law enforcement detain a protester during demonstrations against amendments to Russia's Constitution in Moscow, Russia yesterday

Law enforcement detain a protester during demonstrations against amendments to Russia’s Constitution in Moscow, Russia yesterday

People gather near a monument to Russian poet Alexander Pushkin during a protest against amendments to Russia's Constitution and the results of a nationwide vote on constitutional reforms, in Moscow yesterday

People gather near a monument to Russian poet Alexander Pushkin during a protest against amendments to Russia's Constitution and the results of a nationwide vote on constitutional reforms, in Moscow yesterday

People gather near a monument to Russian poet Alexander Pushkin during a protest against amendments to Russia’s Constitution and the results of a nationwide vote on constitutional reforms, in Moscow yesterday

Law enforcement officers wearing helmets drag a protester away from the demonstrations against amendments to Russia's Constitution last night. Witnesses at the scene said many of the detained activists were bundled into police vehicles

Law enforcement officers wearing helmets drag a protester away from the demonstrations against amendments to Russia's Constitution last night. Witnesses at the scene said many of the detained activists were bundled into police vehicles

Law enforcement officers wearing helmets drag a protester away from the demonstrations against amendments to Russia’s Constitution last night. Witnesses at the scene said many of the detained activists were bundled into police vehicles 

Anatoly Naidyonov, 38, compared the Russian president to a ‘pharaoh who is completely detached from reality’.

‘This can all end badly for the country,’ he added.

Earlier Wednesday parliament’s lower house approved,at a key second reading, controversial legislation that allows elections to be held over three days, in a move the opposition said was aimed at further hollowing out democratic polls.

The amendments allow elections to be held outside polling stations and enable voters to cast ballots in various public spaces.

During the June 25-July 1 plebiscite, makeshift polling stations were set up at unlikely locations including buses, tents and street benches.

The voting process, which was not monitored by proper election observers, was ridiculed on social media.

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