Bomb threats forced evacuation of Moscow’s Bolshoi theatre and other city centre buildings amid Unity Day protests

Bomb threats have forced thousands of people to evacuate Moscow’s Bolshoi theatre, Metropol hotel, GUM department store on the Red Square and other public places on Sunday, local media reported.

A spate of anonymous phone calls have caused disruption at shopping centres, train stations and public buildings across Russia in the past two months. The calls have so far proved to be false alarms and there have been no claims of responsibility.

RIA news agency, citing a source in the police, reported that as many as 5,000 people were evacuated from GUM and Metropol hotel. TASS and RIA, also quoting police sources, said the Bolshoi theatre was also evacuated.

Alexander Bortnikov, the head of the FSB security service said last month the authorities knew the identities of those responsible, saying they four Russian citizens based abroad with “accomplices” inside Russia.

Before, hundreds of protesters were arrested in Moscow Sunday during a demonstration against Russian president Vladimir Putin coinciding with celebrations of Russia's National Unity Day holiday.

According to OVD-Info, which monitors crackdowns on demonstrations, 360 people had been arrested in demonstrations across the country by 5pm on Sunday. Moscow police had put the figure in the capital at 260.

Tass news agency said that many protesters in Moscow had knives and brass knuckles.

Protesters at the unsanctioned demonstration are believed to be linked to nationalist politician and Kremlin critic Vyacheslav Maltsev and his Artillery Preparation movement — a group declared extremist and banned in Russia.

Self-exiled Maltsev said on YouTube that Russia is up for a "revolution" this weekend.

Putin declared November 4 "National Unity Day" in 2005 to mark Russia's victory over Poland in 1612.

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