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Hundreds Detained Outside Moscow Protest Trial Courthouse

Police detained about 200 people on Friday outside a Moscow courthouse where eight people were convicted of rioting and assaulting police at a protest against President Vladimir Putin.

The court verdict was widely interpreted as a sign that Putin will brook no challenge to his rule as Ukraine burns, and cast a shadow over the final days of the Sochi Olympics.

Outside the courthouse, police pushed into a crowd that had gathered to support the defendants, grabbing people and hauling them away as others shouted: "Shame!"

A police spokesman said those detained had attempted to violate public order. Russian authorities say that by law, most large outdoor gatherings require prior approval from government officials.

Image: Defendants stand in a glass cage during a trial in Zamoskvoretsky District Court in Moscow
Defendants stand in a glass cage during a trial in Zamoskvoretsky District Court in Moscow, Russia, on Friday. Alexander Zemlianichenko / AP

Two women from protest band Pussy Riot were in the crowd, as was Alexei Navalny, an opposition leader who is serving a five-year suspended sentence after a trial last year he said was Kremlin revenge.

A judge convicted the eight defendants of rioting and violence against police at an opposition protest on the eve of Putin's inauguration to a third term in 2012.

Sentencing was postponed until Monday, meaning it will be revealed after Sunday's close of the Sochi Winter Olympics, a prestige project for Putin, who has faced criticism from the West for his treatment of dissenters but says he does not use the courts as a political tool.

Kremlin foes blamed the police for the violence at the 2012 rally on Moscow's Bolotnaya Square, calling it part of a a wider clampdown on dissent.

- Reuters