Moscow police keep opposition chief Navalny away from rally

Sep 30, 2017, 02:15
Moscow police keep opposition chief Navalny away from rally

The head of the local election coordinating committee and about a dozen activists have been detained by police in the Russian city of Nizhny Novgorod while attempting to hold a rally in support of opposition politician Aleksei Navalny.

Navalny had planned to travel to the city of Nizhny Novgorod, Russia's fifth-biggest city, where he was to lead a rally later in the day.

Navalny said on social media on Friday that police had detained him in the lobby of his apartment block and told him they wanted to interview him at a police station. "I am sitting in a reception room and looking at a portrait of Putin", he said on Twitter.

Although Mr Navalny has been barred from next year's presidential election due to a controversial embezzlement conviction, he has been pressuring the authorities to let him run by holding campaign rallies in regional cities.

The authorities say opposition protests must be pre-approved by them, but Navalny has in the past said that the Russian constitution enshrines the right to hold such events freely. Some 200 to 300 people turned up, an AFP photographer at the scene saw.

"Today the Interior Ministry's Moscow department detained Alexei Navalny for repeated calls to take part in an unauthorized public event", the press service said.

Many applaud Navalny - whose ally Boris Nemtsov was assassinated in 2015 - for keeping up the fight when many other dissenters have chosen to leave the country or stay quiet.

After Navalny declared his bid, he was hit by a wave of legal obstacles and attacks and even had to travel to Spain for eye surgery after one assault left him nearly blind in one eye. Also, Navalny's national campaign coordinator, Leonid Volkov, was detained in Nizhny Novgorod.

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