Helmeted police in green camouflage and interior ministry troops deployed in force for an event that was organised through the Internet after a rare thousands-strong protest on Monday startled the authorities.
Opposition supporters shouted "Shame on you fascists!" and "Russia without Putin" in a tense stand-off with hundreds of pro-Kremlin youth who descended on the site in advance.
Those detained in Moscow included former cabinet minister turned Kremlin critic Boris Nemtsov -- released after being booked at a police station -- and several other members of opposition groups that were barred from running in the polls.
A Moscow police spokesman said 250 people had been thrown into waiting vans and taken to various police stations about two hours into the event. Interfax cited a security source as saying 300 had been detained.
Police in Putin's native city of Saint Petersburg also reported making around 200 arrests. The private Dozhd (Rain) television station said 50 towns and cities had seen protests in all -- most of them in the central Volga region.
Riot police on Monday had also detained 300 people who included prominent activist Ilya Yashin and opposition blogger Alexei Navalny. A court found both guilty on Tuesday of disobeying police orders and jailed them for 15 days.
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