Anti-Kremlin protesters fill Russian streets, Putin critic Navalny jailed

Bruno Cirelli
Giugno 23, 2017

After Navalny's arrest was broadcast on social media networks, many protesters arrived in the city center not knowing what the next move would be without the main organizer there to lead the rally.

The protest Monday was part of a day of demonstrations throughout Russian Federation spearheaded by Alexei Navalny, the anti-corruption campaigner who has emerged as Russia's most prominent opposition figure and who has announced he intends to run for president next year.

"We are against the corruption that is costing the future of our young people", said Moscow protester Maria Badyrova, a 33-year-old finance specialist who went to the rally with a Russian flag.

The group said 825 people were detained during protests in the capital and 548 arrested in St. Petersburg.

In St. Petersburg, an Associated Press reporter counted about 500 people forced onto police buses.

Navalny, who had a green liquid thrown in his face in April, robbing him of some of his sight, said hundreds of people had also attended demonstrations in Russia's Far East on Monday morning.

In a crackdown meant to quell a movement of youthful activism, numerous arrests appeared to target students and young people, watchdog groups reported. Putin is expected to seek another term in 2018, and Navalny has already announced his intentions to run.

Russian website OVD Info, which operates a hotline and tracks detentions at protest events, said 27 people were detained in other cities before the Moscow protest was set to begin at 2 p.m. (1100GMT).

A rally in Novosibirsk, Russia's third-largest city that's nearly 3,000 kilometres east of the capital, brought out about 5,000 people, local organiser Sergey Boyko said on Navalny's YouTube broadcast.

A day after the demonstrations, the Kremlin denounced as a "provocation" the protests, claiming that young demonstrators, who had taken to the streets to protest against corruption and demand the resignation of Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev, had been "promised financial rewards in the event of their detention by law enforcement agencies" during the protests.

The wave of protests called by Navalny coincides with a public holiday, Russia Day, with Putin handing out awards and holding a reception in the Kremlin.

His wife, Yulia, reported Navalny was detained at his Moscow home. Smaller numbers of protesters were detained in other cities.

The charge was only the latest against Navalny, who has also been accused of embezzlement - a charge he says is a lie to keep him out of office, something the European Court of Human Rights has seconded.

Russian state media ignored the protests.

A regional security official, Vladimir Chernikov, told Ekho Moskvy radio that police would not interfere with demonstrators on the street - as long as they did not carry placards or shout slogans.

Alexei Navalny is seen being detained by police outside his apartment in Moscow in this photo provided by the Navalny Anti Corruption Fund. Many of those present were young people, according to reports.

A Moscow court has sentenced Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny to 30 days in jail for staging an unsanctioned rally in in the capital.

On his blog last week, he wrote: "I want changes".

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