SEVEN opponents of President Vladimir Putin have been sentenced to jail terms ranging from two-and -a-half to four years over a demonstration that turned violent, as riot police detained more than 100 people protesting outside the court.

The protesters, who blame police for the violence in central Moscow in 2012, demanded the release of the defendants and shouted "shame" and "Maidan" - a reference to the Kiev square that has been the focus of the recent protests that brought about the overthrow of Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovich.

An eighth defendant was given a suspended sentence that allows her to avoid jail, but the rulings caused outrage among Kremlin critics who see the prisoners as victims of a clampdown on dissent marking Mr Putin's election to a third term as Russia's president.

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Opposition activists said more than 230 people were detained by riot police who worked their way through the gathering at the courthouse, detaining protesters one by one. A judge on Friday had found the defendants guilty of rioting and attacking police.