Hundreds gathered today in Moscow and St. Petersburg at anti-corruption rallies. According to police sources, around 5000 people participated in demonstrations in Moscow and 3500 in St. Petersburg, while 500 were detained.
Russian opposition leader and prominent critic of Putin, Alexey Navalny, was among those detained by the police, his wife said.
“Alexei [Navalny] has been arrested in the entrance to our block of flats,” Yuliya Navalnaya wrote on Twitter, ahead of the demonstration.
The protesters gathered on Tverskaya Street in the center of the Russian capital, in what police said to be an unauthorized protest. Moscow’s authorities called the protest a ‘provocation’ and an attempt of Navalny to ‘deceive people into attending unauthorized gathering‘.
People gathered today in Moscow to celebrate Russia Day, a national holiday in Russia since 1992. However, the celebrations soon took a different turn when thousands of protesters showed up in central Moscow. The authorities deployed riot police, announcing that the rally was illegal.
The police proceeded to arrest hundreds of protesters. Some of the voices chanted: “Putin, thief!” and “Russia will be free”.
Similar protesters were staged in March in major Russian cities, against government corruption. The protesters accused Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev of amassing a huge private fortune, but Medvedev denied the allegations.
Prominent Russian blogger and leading Putin critic Alexey Navalny, issued a call for people to join him on Monday.
“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,” Navalny wrote.
Putin’s government faced large protests in 2012, with thousands of people taking to the streets in nationwide demonstrations. However, Putin has maintained high popularity ratings throughout his third term as President.
Putin is expected to run for re-election in 2018 Presidential election, though he is yet to confirm his candidacy.
Source: BBC News
Photo Credit: Maxim Shemetov / Reuters