Russian police have made nearly 500 arrests at opposition rallies in the country’s two main cities, including several well-known protest figures.
Opposition leader Alexei Navalny was among those picked up in Moscow on Monday evening, as he attended an unapproved rally near the Kremlin.
He and others have appeared in court, charged with offences that entail a fine or detention of up to 15 days.
The rallies were called to protest at sentences passed on other activists.
Seven people had received prison terms of up to four years on Monday, for rioting and attacking police at a demonstration against Vladimir Putin’s inauguration for a third presidential term in May 2012, in Bolotnaya Square, Moscow. Human rights organisation Amnesty International condemned the sentences as a “hideous injustice”, at the end of a “show trial”.
While the rallies on Monday in Moscow and St Petersburg were called to protest at the Bolotnaya sentences, some demonstrators also made shows of solidarity with the protesters in Ukraine, who brought down President Viktor Yanukovych last week.
Parliament in Ukraine has named its speaker, Oleksandr Turchynov, as interim president.
Turchynov takes charge following the dismissal of President Viktor Yanukovych on Saturday (read more of this here) . Mr Turchynov told MPs they had until Tuesday to form a new unity government.
Parliament also voted to seize Mr Yanukovych’s luxury estate near Kiev, which protesters entered on Saturday.
The whereabouts of Mr Yanukovych, who described parliament’s decision to vote him out as a coup, remain unclear.
Thousands of opposition supporters remain in Independence Square, where the atmosphere is described as calm, after weeks of violent clashes ending in the death of dozens.
After weeks of fighting for a better country, the citizens of Ukraine have managed to remove president Viktor Yanukovich from power. Ukraine’s fromer Prime Minister and hero of the country’s 2004 revolution, Yulia Tymoshenko has been released from prision and has returned to Kiev to claim justice for all the dead protesters.
Tymoshenko served as Prime Minister from 2007 to 2010, and was forced out of office after losing an election to Yanukovych. She was sentenced in 2011 to seven years in prison after being convicted of abuse of authority over a natural gas deal negotiated with Russia in 2009.
Tymoshenko’s release was the latest in a day of dramatic, fast-paced developments that saw Parliament vote to remove President Viktor Yanukovych from office and call for new elections. Just hours after her release from a prison hospital, Tymoshenko called for justice for protesters killed in demonstrations sparked by the President’s decision to scrap a trade deal with the European Union in favor of one with Russia.
President Yanukovich, after seeing that the elections of wether to keep him or not as a ruler were being lost, tried to flee the country but had no proper paperwork to do so, therefore was stopped by local inspectors. He denied the attempt to leave the country. Ukraine’s dismissed interior minister, Vitaliy Zakharchenko, also was refused exit from the country in a similar incident at the same airport, Astakov said.
The events of the day raise questions about just who is in control in Ukraine, with Parliament voting to oust Yanukovych and hold new elections on May 25.
The vote came just 24 hours after Yanukovych signed a peace deal with the opposition intended to end days of bloody protests.
Has Ukraine finally found peace?