Russian police detain demonstrators in St. Petersburg

At least eight people demonstrating against proposed changes to Russia’s constitution were briefly detained by police in St. Petersburg on Saturday (February 1).

Police in riot gear targeted a few dozen activists accused of violating public order. Protesters, some holding handwritten signs, had rallied against constitutional changes put forward by President Vladimir Putin on January 15.

The draft proposals are seen by many as laying the groundwork for Putin's future political role after his current presidential term ends in 2024.

The proposed changes would redistribute national executive powers, allowing Russian lawmakers to name prime ministers and cabinet members and giving a greater role to an obscure consultative body of regional governors and federal officials called the State Council.

A working group has been formed by Putin to study the proposed changes, and the Russian president has promised a popular vote on the amendments.

Shortly after he proposed the changes in his state-of-the-nation address, Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev resigned and Putin replaced him with Mikhail Mishustin, a little-known tax service chief.

Based on RFE

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