Moscow, Feb 01 (Agencies): About 500 people staged demonstration in a central Moscow square on Monday to demand the expulsion of Prime Minister Vladimir Putin and his "rule of thieves".

The rally took place peacefully, but police held a separate group of 20 opposition activists nearby. About 60 protesters were also arrested in St Petersburg, one of a number of other cities where demonstrations were held.

Prominent opposition leader Boris Nemtsov, who was held and jailed for 15 days following a similar demonstration a month ago, kept up his assault on Russia's longtime leader as he addressed the protesters on Moscow's Triumph Square.

He drew comparison between Putin and Egyptian President Hosni Mubarek, who is facing mass unrest after 30 years in power.

Nemtsov has accused Putin of allowing corruption to pass through the corridors of power and of building up considerable personal wealth during his 11 years in power at the expense of ordinary Russians. He also has slammed Putin's reversal of the democratic achievements of the 1990s.

Russia's Opposition holds demonstrations on the last day of every month with 31 days to call attention to the 31st Article of Russia's Constitution, which guarantees freedom of assembly.

The city authorised Monday's rally, but it also authorised the rally on December 31, during which 68 people were held, including Nemtsov. He was arrested after the rally while walking across the square to his car.

Nemtsov's arrest drew Western criticism and mobilised his supporters, who held daily pickets outside the jail where he was being held.

Hundreds of police surrounded the square on Monday, but they allowed the protesters to disperse after the hour-long rally ended with cries of "Down with the rule of thieves."

Police did, however, arrest another Opposition leader Eduard Limonov and his supporters as they walked away from the square. City police spokesman Gennady Bogachev said they were attempting to hold their own rally.