Hundreds were arrested, including opposition leader Alexei Navalny, who was seized outside his Moscow residence while on his way to an unsanctioned rally in the city center.
OVD reported that 121 people had been arrested in Moscow and 137 in St. Petersburg.
Navalny, a staunch Kremlin critic and anti-corruption campaigner, has always been the most visible opposition figure to Putin’s rule.
Police say Navalny was detained for breaking laws regarding public meetings and obeying authorities, the Interfax news agency reports.
Thousands of protesters turned out anyway, and dozens of detentions were reported in both Moscow and St. Petersburg.
Isn’t it hard to protest in Russian Federation?
Navalny called for on his supporters to protest an end to corruption on Monday.
Instead, he urged demonstrators to gather on Tverskaya Street, a main Moscow avenue that was closed to traffic for a celebration of the national Russia Day holiday that included people dressed up in various costumes from the country’s history.
Authorities in Moscow had agreed to a location away from the city centre, but Navalny called for the protest to be moved to Tverskaya Street, one of the city’s main thoroughfares, citing interference in building a stage for speakers at the agreed-upon venue.
Most of the Moscow protesters appeared to be under 30, although there was a sizeable number of middle-aged people and couples with children.
Although it was not immediately clear if Monday’s protests were larger than those in March, they underlined the deep dismay with the government.
The mood was tense as some groups of protesters vowed to go to the authorized location and anxious doing otherwise could get them arrested.
Meanwhile there was also a large police presence in St. Petersburg where a protest was taking place at the Field of Mars park, where protesters were chanting “shame”.
Navalny’s spokeswoman Kira Yarmish, said power at their office had been cut by authorities.
A regional security official, Vladimir Chernikov, told Ekho Moskvy radio that police wouldn’t interfere with demonstrators on the street – as long as they didn’t carry placards or shout slogans. Reuters witnesses saw a police auto leaving Navalny’s apartment compound at high speed, followed a few minutes later by a minibus carrying about 10 policemen.
Navalny had been due to attend the demonstration in Moscow, but his wife, Yulia, posted a photo of him being detained by police at his home.
Navalny, a former lawyer who’s announced plans to challenge Putin in next year’s presidential election, has become the country’s most prominent opposition figure. Most recent was in March when he, and up to 1,000 others, were arrested during rallies which aimed to unseat Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev over corruption concerns.
Navalny called for demonstrations after the Kremlin refused to respond to his protest action in March and his report accusing Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev of using charities and NGOs to collect donations from tycoons and state banks. Navalny has also suffered for his campaign by twice being attacked with a green antiseptic dye.