Published: Mon, May 07, 2018
Global | By Craig Ferguson

Putin critic Navalny is released after nationwide rallies prompt hundreds of arrests

Putin critic Navalny is released after nationwide rallies prompt hundreds of arrests

Russian police on Saturday arrest a participant of an unauthorized liberal opposition rally, called by their leader Alexei Navalny prior to the official inauguration of President Vladimir Putin.

Rallies were expected to take place in 97 cities around Russian Federation, with a number of them unsanctioned by authorities - including the protests in Moscow and St. Petersburg. OVD-Info, an organization that monitors political repression, said late Saturday that at least 1,607 people had been detained at demonstrations in 20 Russian cities.

Navalny, who has been detained and jailed for organizing similar protests in the past, had managed to briefly address several thousand people beforehand, saying he was glad people had shown up.

Putin won a landslide re-election victory in March, extending his grip over the world's largest country at least until 2024, making him the longest-lasting leader since Soviet dictator Josef Stalin who ruled for almost 30 years.

Cossacks have acted as an auxiliary police force in some cities, regularly undertaking street patrols on the lookout for illegal immigrants.

Putin is due to be sworn in for his fourth term on May 7, extending an 18-year reign that his supporters say has lifted the country "from its knees" and is denounced by his opponents as a corrupt, calcifying authoritarian kleptocracy.

"I think that Putin isn't worthy of leading this country".

The protests demonstrated that Navalny's opposition, although considered beleaguered by Russian officials and largely ignored by state-controlled television, has sizeable support in much of the country.

This year Putin's minders are planning a fairly low-key inauguration ceremony that will not include a lavish Kremlin reception in an apparent effort to eschew any bad publicity, TV Rain, an independent channel, reported Friday, citing informed sources.

He even has the power to remove ministers, such as the former economy minister Alexei Ulyukayev who opposed Rosneft's resale of oil company Bashneft.Ulyukayev was arrested past year at Rosneft's headquarters, caught accepting a bribe that he said was a setup.

Inspired by Donald Trump, this protester in Moscow makes his voice heard beneath a Make Russia Great Again hat.

Putin critic Alexei Navalny had only just begun to speak when he was snatched from the stage in Moscow.

Navalny was barred from running for president against Putin earlier this year and has no clear avenue for gaining elective office.

In 2012, Putin's black cortège raced through the deserted streets of Moscow on the way to his third Kremlin inauguration with authorities cordoning off roads, in what many saw as a major faux pas.

Anti-Kremlin protesters chanted "the fourth term - in prison" and "sick of you", in a reference to Putin, as a helicopter hovered overhead.

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