Russian police detained some 200 people—including “high-profile” figures opposed to Russian President Vladimir Putin—Saturday after breaking up an conference being held at a Moscow hotel, the BBC reports. The action “came amid a multi-pronged crackdown on dissent” in that country, per the AP. Authorities said that participants were not adhering to coronavirus precautions and that the event was linked to an “undesirable organization,” according to Reuters. Those detained would be charged with administrative violations, police said. Among those detained was Ilya Yashin, an opposition politician who leads one of Moscow's municipal districts; former Yekaterinburg mayor Yevgeny Roizman; and Moscow municipal council member Yulia Galyamina. “Their goal was to scare people away from engaging in politics,” politician and event organizer Andrei Pivovarov said in a video he recorded while in a police van.
Pivovarov has played a leading role in Open Russia, a group funded by Russian tycoon Mikhail Khodorkovsky. Khodorkovsky moved to London after spending 10 years in prison in Russia on charges widely seen as political revenge for challenging President Vladimir Putin’s rule. The crackdown on the forum follows the arrest and imprisonment of Russian opposition leader, Alexei Navalny. Putin’s most determined political foe was arrested on Jan. 17 upon returning from Germany, where he spent five months recovering from a nerve-agent poisoning that he blames on the Kremlin. Last month, Navalny was sentenced to more than two years in prison for violating the terms of his probation while convalescing in Germany, a sentence he says is retribution from the Kremlin. The government has been targeting opposition recently ahead of parliamentary elections set for September, per the AP. (Read more Moscow stories.)