MOSCOW: A group of feminist activists was detained in Moscow today -- International Women's Day -- after protesting inside the tightly guarded Kremlin with banners calling for an end to male rule.
Seven people were detained including two journalists and taken to a police station for questioning, wrote OVD Info, a website that monitors the detention of activists.
The Novaya Gazeta opposition newspaper, whose journalists witnessed the demonstration, published a photograph of two protesters standing on a balcony of one of the Kremlin towers holding smoke flares and a banner saying "Feminism is our national idea".
The protesters were able to sneak slogans written on skirts and scarves through the tight security, the paper reported.
Police later released the protesters without charge, activist Yelena Tishchenko told the Echo of Moscow radio station.
One of the participants, performance artist Yekaterina Nenasheva, posted a video on Facebook showing activists standing on top of an artificial grotto in a park by the Kremlin walls.
They are holding smoke flares and a banner saying "Men have been in power 200 years, down with them!" -- a reference to Russia's last female ruler was Catherine the Great, who died in 1796.
"The Moscow and St Petersburg feminists who seized the Kremlin congratulate you on March 8," Nenasheva wrote in her Facebook message.
Six activists in total took part, holding up banners with slogans including "A woman for president", "All power to women" and "Men - get out of the Kremlin", Novaya Gazeta reported.
The protest resembled those by feminist punk group Pussy Riot, who in 2012 lit flares and sang a song about President Vladimir Putin on a platform on Red Square.
Frontwoman Nadezhda Tolokonnikova and fellow member Maria Alyokhina were sentenced to two years in prison in 2012 for performing an anti-Putin anthem on the altar of a Moscow church.
March 8 is a public holiday in Russia but is mainly celebrated by giving flowers and chocolates to women rather than stressing the need for gender equality.
In a video address to the nation's women, Putin said that he and other men "will do all we can so that our beloved women are lavished with care and attention and smile more often".
To celebrate Wednesday's holiday, the authorities projected an image onto the Kremlin walls of a map of Russia made of flowers with the message: "For you, our beloved