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Russian Police Detain Opposition Leader & Others

Russian opposition members detained in Moscow (June 12 -- 2017 BBC image photo for education only)

Russian opposition members detained in Moscow (June 12 — 2017 BBC image photo for education only)

By Ken Bredemeier (VOA News) - Russian police detained opposition leader Alexei Navalny and dozens of his supporters throughout the country Monday in anti-corruption protests aimed at Russian President Vladimir Putin and his allies.

Navalny, who has announced his intention to run for president next year against Putin, was detained outside his home in Moscow shortly before demonstrators took to the streets there, in St. Petersburg and other cities.

Reporters witnessed dozens of protesters being detained, with one non-government organization tracking the demonstrations reporting that about 120 were arrested in the capital and more than 130 in St. Petersburg. More than 3,000 protested in the Siberian city of Novosibirsk, with other rallies taking place in the southern resort Sochi, Krasnoyarsk, Kazan, Tomsk and Vladivostok.

Protesters, monitored by scores of policemen, take part in a demonstration in downtown Moscow, Russia, June 12, 2017.

Protesters, monitored by scores of policemen, take part in a demonstration in downtown Moscow, Russia, June 12, 2017.

 

Police in Moscow used pepper spray on the protesters.

Authorities had agreed to a location for the protest in central Moscow, but Navalny moved it late Sunday to a main thoroughfare leading to the Kremlin after he said that officials blocked construction of a stage and sound system at the original site. He claimed that authorities refused to supply him with sound and video equipment.

Moscow city hall labeled the change in the protest site a provocation and said that demonstrations would be viewed as a threat to public order, leading to the detentions.

Navalny’s aides had been broadcasting about the lead-up to the protests from a Moscow studio, but authorities cut off power to the building just as the 41-year-old Navalny was being detained by police.

Police detain a protester In Moscow, Russia, June 12, 2017.

Police detain a protester In Moscow, Russia, June 12, 2017.

 

“They turned off the electricity in the studio,” presenter Leonid Volkov said in complete darkness shortly before the channel went off air. It came back online after a few minutes.

Navalny’s anti-corruption videos have provoked the country’s most powerful officials, including one accusing Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev, a Putin ally, of living far beyond his means. Medvedev has called the accusations politically motivated “nonsense” and called Navalny a charlatan.

In a blog post published last week, Navalny wrote, “I want changes. I want to live in a modern democratic state and I want our taxes to be converted into roads, schools and hospitals, not into yachts, palaces and vineyards.”

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