World

Putin Critic Navalny Detained After Defying Police With Protest Call

Putin Critic Navalny Detained After Defying Police With Protest Call

Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny has been arrested outside his Moscow home on his way to a demonstration in the capital, his wife says.

Opposition party leader and protest organizer Aleksei A. Navalny moved the protests from the designated Sakharova Street to the central street in downtown Moscow, away from the approved location, alleging the contractors refused to offer him equipment for the rally.

The 41-year-old had called for mass protests nationwide against corruption, with anti-graft demonstrations planned in more than 180 towns and cities.

Navalny said protesters had a constitutional right to gather to express their political opinions and that Tverskaya Street would be an ideal location because it will be turned into a pedestrian zone for the Russia Day celebrations.

Mr. Navalny supporters were demonstrating across Russian Federation, with several arrested as police warned organisers against holding an unauthorised rally in Moscow.

Police detained as many as 750 in Moscow and 900 in St. Petersburg, according to OVD-Info, an independent monitoring agency.

The protests on Monday come months after the largest political demonstrations in five years took place in March, with up to 60,000 people taking to the streets across Russian Federation to protest alleged corruption linked to the prime minister, Dmitry Medvedev.

"We aren't afraid because we have nothing to lose", said Roman Egorov, 21, a student from Moscow, who sat perched on a stack of metal crowd-control fences as he videotaped the protests on his iPhone. In St Petersburg, dozens were reported detained by police at the protest.

More than 1,000 protesters were arrested at a similar rally on March 26. AP reporters also saw at least 10 arrests in Moscow, with reports saying there were up to 100 so far in the capital.




A Moscow court, sitting late Monday, sentenced Navalny after finding him guilty of violating law regarding holding rallies.

Police in Moscow used pepper spray on the protesters and sometimes pushed them back by beating them with batons.

The protests in March took place in scores of cities across the country, the largest show of discontent in years.

Russia's anti-corruption protests come in response to an investigation by Navalny's Anti-corruption Foundation into what was described as a corruption scheme in which Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev was said to have amassed lavish mansions and taken luxury shopping trips.

Navalny has said he wants to contest the March presidential election, in which Putin is expected to run, though the authorities say the opposition figure is barred from running for office because of a fraud conviction he says is politically motivated.

Navalny had previously received permission from the authorities to stage Monday's protests, which coincide with an official holiday known as Russia Day.

Navalny, who was detained ahead of the protests while at his house, had urged Russians to participate in anti-corruption demonstrations.

The protests in March were called to demand the resignation of Prime Minster Dmitry Medvedev. In central Moscow, where authorities had organized historical re-enactments to celebrate the holiday, there were often surreal scenes as protesters scaled straw huts occupied by actors dressed as medieval Russian warriors.


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