Russian detains opposition leader Alexei Navalny ahead of anti-Kremlin protests

Putin-critic Alexei Navalny has been arrested ahead of Monday’s public holiday protests, his wife has announced on Twitter. Navalny’s supporters are expected to mark Russia Day with over 200 rallies nationwide.

Russland Nawalny bem Protest gegen Wohnbaupläne in Moskau (picture-alliance/AP Photo/P. Golovkin)

Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny was detained by police outside his Moscow home on Monday ahead of an anti-government rally he was going to hold in central Moscow.

Navalny’s wife announced the arrest on Twitter around 40 minutes before the protests were due to start. “Hello, this is Yulia Navalnaya,” she wrote. “Alexei has been detained in the stairwell.”

The protests will still go ahead, she added.

Привет. Это Юля Навальная. Всех с праздником. Алексея задержали в подъезде дома. Он просил передать, что планы не меняются: Тверская.

In a subsequent tweet, she posted a photo of Navalny being escorted into a police car.

Thousands of young Russians are marking Monday’s patriotic Russia Day holiday by rallying against government corruption and exerting pressure on President Vladimir Putin.

Navalny’s team said they expected some 45,000 to 50,000 people at the Moscow rally alone. Navalny’s key demographic among his supporters includes teenagers and students who have grown up only knowing Putin’s rule.

 

The arrest is likely linked to Navalny’s announcement late on Sunday that he would change the location of the protest from Sakharova Street, located far away from the Moscow’s city center, to Tverskaya Street, Moscow’s main avenue near the Kremlin.

City authorities had authorized the protest at Sakharova Street. However, Navalny had claimed that authorities had pressured firms into refusing to build a stage at the agreed upon venue, as well as supply his team with sound and video equipment.

Moving the protest venue would likely make it illegal in the eyes of Russia’s authorities and prompted fears of violence.

Following the change of location, Moscow authorities warned that “any provocative actions from the protesters’ side will be considered a threat to public order and will be immediately suppressed.”

Read more: Opinion: Russian politics are as cold as ever

Russland Proteste in Moskau (Reuters/T. Makeyeva)Riot police have begun making arrests at the anti-corruption protest organised by Navalny.

Ruslan Shaveddinov, a spokesman for Navalny’s team, said that police were “saying that to make people afraid so they don’t go. People are not afraid.”

Early reports from the protests suggest that a small number of protestors were detained as they were exiting a metro station in the center of the city.

Presidential hopes

The protests are part of Navalny’s whistle-stop tour of Russia, as he seeks to run for the Russian presidency next year. However, polls suggest that he would have scant chance of winning, if he were even allowed to run at all. A controversial past conviction on graft charges is likely to keep him off the ballot. His latest arrest casts further doubts over his eligiability to run.

A spokeswoman for Navalny tweeted shortly after his arrest that electricity to his campaign offices in Moscow had been cut off.

The scale and geographical reach of Monday’s protests will show whether Navalny’s movement can continue to pressure the Kremlin, after similar protests in March were shut down. Authorities arrested Navalny and kept him detained for two weeks. Around 1,000 anti-government protestors were also arrested

Read more: Kremlin tells kids to ditch Navalny’s Russia Day demos

The latest demonstrations should also indicate whether the lawyer-turned-political activist can collect the 300,000 signatures needed to stand a chance of running in next year’s presidential race.

With the protests being held on a public holiday, turnout is expected to be high.

Russland | Oppositionsführer Alexei Navalny nach Attacke mit Zelyonka (brilliant green antiseptic) (picture-alliance/AP Photo/E. Feldman)April’s green liquid attack left Navalny with permanently damaged sight.

Putin’s headache

Navalny has been a bane for the Russian government since he finished second in the Moscow mayoral race in 2013 on an anti-Putin platform. That success effectively cemented his place as Russian’s top opposition leader.

However, Navalny’s quest for the presidency has suffered repeated setbacks and hurdles, including repeated physical assaults. In April he required medical treatment after he had caustic green liquid thrown in his face.

Earlier this year, Navalny’ was also handed a suspended prison sentence for alleged corruption, which will likely bar him from running for the presidency next year. That was the latest in a series of trials that his supporters say have been organized by the Kremlin to halt his campaign.

Despite the setbacks, Navalny has vowed to continue challenging the government. “We can only force them to register me,” he told supporters. “It’s clear as day Putin doesn’t want to come out to debate with me.”

Includes videos:

http://www.dw.com/en/russian-opposition-leader-alexei-navalny-detained-ahead-of-anti-kremlin-protests/a-39205818

dm/rt (dpa, Reuters, AFP)

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One Response to “Russian detains opposition leader Alexei Navalny ahead of anti-Kremlin protests”

  1. daveyone1 Says:

    Reblogged this on World Peace Forum.

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