An opposition activist was detained and beaten Sunday after he tried to enter Moscow’s landmark Christ the Savior Cathedral to pray to deliver Russia from Vladimir Putin.

Several riot police officers forced Roman Dobrokhotov into a police car just meters (feet) from Russia’s largest church, widely seen as a symbol of resurgent Orthodox Christianity after seven decades of atheist Communist rule. Dobrokhotov, who leads a small anti-Kremlin youth movement, heckled President Dmitry Medvedev during his speech in the Kremlin in 2008.

Another activist, Mariya Baronova, of the Resistance anti-Kremlin group, entered the cathedral, but was cornered by a group of Orthodox priests and men who tried to escort her out.

A dozen activists from the militant Union of Orthodox Banner Bearers group lined up in front of the cathedral, shouting obscenities at Dobrokhotov and Baronova. The group is known for dispersing gay rallies, and for protesting against pop star Madonna’s shows in Russia and burning Harry Potter books.

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