Nine members of independent Russian theatre group Teatr.doc were accused by police of unlawfully drinking alcohol in central Moscow   on Wednesday and briefly detained, activists have reported.

The actors were stopped after finishing a performance in the city centre, according to police monitoring service OVD-Info.

Actress Maria Chuprinskaya told Russian media outlet Mediazona that the officers who approached the group already knew the names of several of her colleagues, in some cases showing them pictures posted on their social media profiles.

When the group asked why they had been detained, police said that five witnesses had seen the actors drinking or taking drugs in public.

“They pointed at [Teatr.doc director] Sasha Kondrashova and said, “Well, you look like a druggie,” Chuprinskaya said.

While Russian law forbids drinking alcohol in public spaces, the rule is rarely enforced and has been widely flouted by jubilant supporters visiting Russia for the football World Cup.

Teatr.doc, which often hosts avant-garde plays heavy with political satire, has regularly fallen victim to what supporters describe as police harrassment. The company has been forcibly evicted several times since it was formed in 2002, with some productions cancelled at the last moment or interrupted by police officers investigating hoax bomb threats.

All the Teatr.doc members detained by police were released without charge in the early hours of the morning, OVD-Info reported.

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