Russian Opposition Chief Arrested Amid Election Protests

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Protesters gathered throughout Russia Sunday to assist opposition chief Alexei Navalny’s name to boycott the March presidential election, and Navalny himself was arrested whereas strolling to the Moscow demonstration.

Lots of the crowds that turned out in typically frigid climate skewed sharply younger, apparently reflecting rising discontent amongst Russians who’ve lived most or all of their lives beneath President Vladimir Putin, who got here to energy on New 12 months’s Eve 1999.

“So long as I have been alive, Putin has at all times been in. I am bored with nothing being modified,” mentioned 19-year-old Vlad Ivanov, considered one of about 1,500 protesters who assembled in St. Petersburg.

Navalny, Putin’s most outstanding foe, organized the protests to induce a boycott of Russia’s March 18 presidential election, wherein Putin is certain to win a fourth time period. He was wrestled to the bottom and compelled right into a police bus as he walked towards the demonstration on Moscow’s Pushkin Sq..

The anti-corruption campaigner was denied permission to be a presidential candidate due to an embezzlement conviction in a case broadly seen as politically motivated.

No figures have been accessible for the way many individuals participated within the protests, however the turnout was clearly smaller than for rallies Navalny organized final yr. The dimensions and scope of the sooner protests, which occurred in provincial cities thought to be the middle of Putin’s assist, rattled the Kremlin.

Protests have been reported in dozens of cities, from the Pacific Coast to the Baltic Sea exclave of Kaliningrad. Navalny’s internet web page confirmed a small group of protesters in distant Yakutsk, the place it was minus 49 levels.

A crowd that police estimated at 1,000 individuals, however appeared bigger, assembled in central Pushkin Sq., brandishing placards studying “They’ve stolen the election from us” and “Elections with out Navalny are faux.”

After that gathering dispersed, columns of protesters took off in a number of instructions. One group skirted the Kremlin, then headed down the Novy Arbat, a major buying and leisure space, and to the riverside authorities headquarters constructing informally referred to as the Russian White Home.

Shouting “Putin is a thief,” a number of the protesters threw handfuls of snow by means of the excessive spiked fence surrounding the constructing. Police didn’t intervene, a distinction to their sometimes fast and harsh responses to unauthorized gatherings.

The OVD-Data group, which screens political repression, reported that 257 individuals have been arrested within the demonstrations all through the nation.

Hours earlier than the Moscow protest, police raided Navalny’s headquarters, the place there’s a studio for dwell video transmissions. One broadcaster on the stream mentioned police apparently have been utilizing an influence grinder software to attempt to get into the studio.

The anchors internet hosting the feed reported that police mentioned that they had come due to an alleged bomb risk.

One anchor, Dmitri Nizovtsev, was detained by police, in response to video broadcast from the headquarters. Navalny’s Moscow coordinator, Nikolai Lyaskin, additionally was detained Sunday, the Interfax information company quoted him as saying.

A number of hundred demonstrators assembled within the Pacific port metropolis of Vladivostok, complaining each of Putin’s rule and of Navalny’s exclusion from the March 18 presidential election.

“They took these elections away from us, they took away our votes. Our candidate was not allowed to run,” mentioned Vladivostok demonstrator Dmitri Kutyaev.

Navalny rose to prominence with detailed reviews about corruption amongst prime Russian officers, which he popularized on social media to bypass state management of tv.

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