MOSCOW - Video footage of a Russian police officer punching a young woman in the stomach has stirred anger among many Russians who believe the authorities have used excessive force to disperse weeks of political demonstrations in Moscow.
The clip, filmed on Saturday and later circulated online by Russian celebrities with millions of followers, shows the moment two helmeted riot policemen drag the woman, Daria Sosnovskaya, to a waiting police bus.
Sosnovskaya, 26, is seen struggling to break free and trying to trip up one of the police officers who responds by punching her in the stomach, prompting one of the reporters filming the incident to sarcastically call the policeman "a hero".
The statistician was one of over 200 people detained in central Moscow on Saturday for taking part in what authorities said was an illegal protest following a sanctioned demonstration to demand free elections in the city legislature.
The authorised part of the protest was attended by around 60,000 people, the White Counter monitoring group said, making it the biggest event of its kind in eight years as an increasingly emboldened anti-Kremlin opposition movement challenges President Vladimir Putin's tight grip on power.