MOSCOW -- Russian police detained almost 150 people in Moscow protesting recently approved constitutional changes that could allow President Vladimir Putin to serve two more terms until 2036.
OVD-Info, an independent political watchdog, said at least 147 protesters were detained on July 15. Some were later released.
A correspondent for Current Time, the Russian-language network led by RFE/RL in cooperation with VOA, witnessed police dragging protesters on the asphalt, and one of them was pulled by the hair into a police van.
Among those detained were Andrei Pivovarov, the executive director of the human rights group Open Russia, and Yulia Galyamina, a prominent municipal deputy, and her daughter.
Hundreds of people had gathered Moscow’s central Pushkin Square on a rainy evening, chanting "Putin resign" and "Putin's a thief."
They turned out officially to sign a petition against the raft of constitutional changes that were passed in a national, nonbinding plebiscite conducted between June 25 and July 1.
Among other changes, the amendments allow Putin to seek two more presidential terms after his current second, consecutive presidential term ends in 2024.
Katya Grishunina, who works at the Nuzhna Pomoshch (Help Needed) NGO, compared the recent plebiscite to the vote in Crimea in March 2014 on Russia's forcible annexation of Ukraine's Crimean Peninsula.
"I didn't vote for their constitutional changes. The vote was rigged, just like the referendum in Crimea," Grishunina explained to RFE/RL at the demonstration.
"Elections are a trigger for people who want real change," she added. "But I don't know if we can effect any change right now."