Russia detains more than 400 protesters

Russia's Large Landing Ship "Azov" (C) is pictured moored at the home base of Russia's Black Sea Fleet in the Crimean port of Sevastopol February 24, 2014. Russia said on Monday it would not deal with those it said stole power in "an armed mutiny" in Ukraine, sending the strongest signal yet that Moscow does not want to be drawn into a bidding war with the West in its southern neighbour.

MOSCOW - More than 400 Russian protesters were due in court on Tuesday a day after police detained them at a central Moscow rally, the largest such wave of arrests in nearly two years.

The demonstrators had gathered near Red Square late on Monday in support of activists jailed earlier in the day for staging "mass riots," a key case seen as a symbol of the harsh crackdown on dissent under President Vladimir Putin's latest term.

Police arrested some 420 demonstrators around the Manezhnaya Square and surrounding streets on various charges, including taking part in an unsanctioned rally and resisting police.

It marked the largest wave of protester arrests since May 2012 rallies against Putin's third term and took place a day after the closing of the Winter Olympic Games in Russia's southern resort of Sochi.

They also come against the backdrop of months of mass, often deadly unrest in neighbouring Ukraine that over the weekend ousted the ex-Soviet country's pro-Kremlin president.