The St. Petersburg authorities allowed the opposition to hold their March of Dissent rally April 15 but banned the protesters' plans to march afterwards. After the rally, most demonstrators went to a nearby metro station, but some participants tried to break through a police cordon, which sparked clashes.
"At a meeting with the heads of the city's law enforcement agencies Monday, Valentina Matviyenko gave instructions to study carefully all the statements about the abuse of citizens' rights during the mass events... The governor demanded that police take measures within the applicable legislation, if such facts are confirmed," the press office said.
During the clashes between the protesters and the police, about 120 people were detained, a spokesman for the city's interior department said Sunday.
Matviyenko also ordered the police to investigate carefully the abuse of the rights of journalists covering the rally, the press service said.
The rally in Russia's second-largest city followed a similar opposition protest in Moscow April 14, at which about 250 protesters were detained.
Human rights advocates in Russia and abroad have criticized the Kremlin for tightening its grip on democracy and human freedoms ever since Vladimir Putin took presidential office in 2000. However, polls show that the majority of Russians support the country's leader for the stability and economic growth Russia has enjoyed under his rule.
At the same time, the State Duma, the lower house of Russia's parliament, said it has not received any complaints about the abuse of citizens' rights during the dissenters' marches in Moscow and St. Petersburg.
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