Police on Wednesday detained 19 opposition protesters who staged a sit-in on Lubyanskaya Ploshchad in support of fellow activist Taisia Osipova, on trial on murky drug dealing charges in Smolensk, Interfax reported.
The sit-in was organized by the unregistered Other Russia party near the square's Solovetsky Stone memorial, installed to honor victims of the Soviet secret services.
Detainees reported by telephone from the police precinct that they were abused and beaten, with one of them hospitalized, Novaya Gazeta reported. Police did not comment.
Osipova was detained in November after police said they found heroin in her home. Supporters say she was framed to put pressure on her husband, senior Other Russia official Sergei Fomichenkov. She faces up to 10 years in prison, with a verdict possibly due as early as Thursday.
Police banned the sit-in on the pretext that it would enable terrorist attacks by preventing officers from scouting the area for bombs, Gazeta.ru said.