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Anti-Kremlin protesters rally; several detained

MOSCOW — Russian police detained an opposition leader and a dozen activists during a rally in Moscow on Saturday that drew hundreds of protesters.

Several hundred activists headed by Sergei Udaltsov of the anti-Kremlin Left Front group braved freezing temperatures to rally in central Moscow to protest what they said was the Kremlin's stifling of democracy, as well as corruption and rising prices.

Authorities had limited the rally to a central square, and riot police started detentions after the protesters moved to the presidential administration building chanting "Time to replace the government" and "Enough with rising prices."

Moscow police spokeswoman Yelena Perfilova told the Ekho Moskvy radio that Udaltsov and 13 other protesters were detained.

Several dozen protesters held a similar rally in St. Petersburg. Police did not detain anyone.

Popular support for opposition groups is minimal in Russia. Their activities have been thwarted as authorities ban their rallies and police regularly break up their gatherings.

The Left Front is a small opposition group allied with liberal democrats and leftist movements that have been denied registration for municipal and parliamentary elections.

Elsewhere in Russia, four Islamic militants and a local politician were killed in drive-by shootings, shootouts with police and accidental bombings in Russia's volatile North Caucasus region, officials said Saturday.

Provinces in the mainly Muslim region have been increasingly roiled by violence and clashes between police and Islamic militants.

Two suspected Islamic militants were gunned down Saturday in Nazran, the largest city in the province of Ingushetia, the RIA Novosti news agency reported.

Also Saturday, a regional leader of the pro-Kremlin Just Russia party was gunned down in the province of Adygeya, the Itar-Tass news agency reported.

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