EU, US condemn 600 detentions at Moscow anti-corruption rally

Mar 28, 2017, 00:31
EU, US condemn 600 detentions at Moscow anti-corruption rally

In Moscow, police arrested hundreds of demonstrators, including prominent Russian opposition leader and anti-corruption activist, Alexei Navalny, who orchestrated the uprising.

With his colorful and sarcastic expose of Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev's alleged collection of mansions, villas and vineyards - which garnered over 13 million views on YouTube - Navalny managed to draw tens of thousands to the streets across Russian Federation in the biggest show of defiance since a 2011-2012 wave of protests rattled the Kremlin and led to harsh new laws aimed at suppressing dissent.

The protests, reckoned to be the biggest since a wave of anti-Kremlin demonstrations in 2011/2012, come a year before a presidential election which Putin is expected to contest, running for what would be a fourth term.

Police detained scores of protesters in Moscow, including Navalny, 40, who was stopped shortly after arriving on Tverskaya Street in the capital's downtown, his spokeswoman said in Twitter post.

He was also fined 20,000 roubles (£280) for his role in organising the protest, which Russian authorities said was illegal, but avoided a further 15 days in prison - the maximum sentence for that crime.

He added that the Kremlin "cannot respect those who deliberately mislead people and who instigated unlawful actions yesterday".

Others demand the resignation of Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev.

Navalny's Moscow office, the Anti-Corruption Foundation, was ransacked by police, who took away computers and other equipment, according to his press secretary, Kira Yarmysh.

Navalny said in the court he was the organizer of the rally in downtown Moscow on March 26 but called it lawful and consistent with a decision by Russia's Constitutional Court.

Protests led by Kremlin critic Alexei Navalny were some of the largest in recent years. At times, authorities have experimented with allowing him to take part in politics, and he stood for mayor of Moscow in 2013, winning 27% of votes.

Sergei Markov, a pro-Kremlin analyst, agreed that Navalny had scored a "serious success" by carrying off rallies in dozens of cities "despited the bans and arrests".

Navalny said Russians would keep protesting for "as long as people see tens of billions of dollars being stolen by top officials".

The European Union urged Russian Federation to release the demonstrators "without delay" and expressed concern that police action had "prevented the exercise of basic freedoms of expression, association and peaceful assembly".

The Kremlin on Monday rejected calls by the United States and the European Union to release opposition protesters detained during what it said were illegal demonstrations the previous day and accused organisers of paying teenagers to attend.

Peskov said it was regrettable that people wishing to protest were not informed about the alternative locations.

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