AT least 260 people have been arrested in Moscow while trying to gather for an unauthorised protest demonstration called for by an extreme nationalist group.

The arrests at Manezh Square, adjacent to the Kremlin today came two days after the domestic security agency said it had arrested some group members who are suspected of planning to firebomb administrative buildings.

The group, called Artpodgotovka, was declared an extremist group by a Russian court last week. Its exiled leader, Vyacheslav Maltsev, had called for protests to force President Putin’s resignation.

Maltsev says a revolution is imminent. Last year in a debate he called for Putin to be impeached.

He is reported to be living abroad after a Moscow court issued an arrest warrant for him over his calls for extremist measures to overthrow the government.

The OVD-Info organisation that monitors political arrests said at least 86 people were detained this afternoon.

State news agency Tass cited a police official as saying that about 200 were being held.

Most of the arrests were made in Moscow but people were also detained in five other cities.

Some of the protesters in Moscow were reported to be carrying knives, knuckledusters and rubber bullet-firing pistols.