November 19 2017

Hundreds of demonstrators arrested in Russian Federation

November 19 2017, 12:55 | Van Peters

The Latest on Russian opposition protest (all times local): 8:35 p.m. Hundreds of people were arrested Monday in protests across Russia.

A series of anti-government protests against corruption and political stagnation led by the Opposition swept through Russian Federation on Monday, leading to the arrest of thousands of demonstrators including Opposition leader Alexei Navalny who has been sent to jail for 30 days. Changing the location may provoke clashes with the police.

Navalny had called on his supporters to mark the Russia Day holiday on Monday with protests against what he called a corrupt system of rule overseen by Russian President Vladimir Putin.

The 41-year-old had called for mass protests nationwide against corruption, with anti-graft demonstrations planned in more than 180 towns and cities.

While the protests have previously been marketed more as "anti-corruption" demonstrations rather than an indictment of Russia's government, Monday's turnout seemed to indicate that protesters have become bolder and more willing to speak out. Moscow's interior ministry office said around 4,500 people had taken part there.

Tverskaya Street was closed to traffic for a holiday historical display.

We watched as the riot police pushed the protestors back - while snatch squads dove into the crowd to grab the organisers. Riot officers in protective gear moved in on demonstrators.

The group said 825 people were detained during protests in the capital and 548 arrested in St. Petersburg.

"We want turnover among those in power". That was a key issue Monday for protesters, particularly his allegations that Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev had amassed vineyards, luxury yachts and lavish mansions worth more than $1 billion. The government denied that.

People gather for an anti-corruption rally in St. Petersburg, Russia, Monday.

"The right to peaceful assembly is guaranteed by the Russian Constitution, though you wouldn't know it from the alarming scenes today".

Police in Moscow also warned that they would be tough on any act of provocation during the Russia Day commemorations, saying any such act would be "a threat to public order and will be immediately suppressed". Navalny was picked up by police as he left his Moscow apartment.

The scale of Monday's protests in Moscow and smaller ones in St. Petersburg and scores of other cities suggests Navalny has maintained his campaign's momentum despite more than 1,000 people being arrested after the last such protest in March. Russia's police frequently give lower estimates and the number could be higher.

"We are against the corruption that is costing the future of our young people", said Moscow protester Maria Badyrova, a 33-year-old finance specialist who went to the rally with a Russian flag.

The protesters tried not to unfold their posters before they passed control at the metal detector gates and the police cordon, trying to first see what was happening in other areas because the barriers, police vans and rows of OMON forces were obstructing their view.

OVD-Info, an independent NGO, said that 825 people had been detained at the protest in the capital.

An opposition organiser for Navalny in Vladivostok on the Pacific coast was detained and fined for illegally organising a rally, according to state news service RIA Novosti, which cited a regional lawmaker.

Navalny has said that he is planning to run against Putin in the 2018 election, but hit a roadblock as he has technically been living with a five-year suspended prison sentence for embezzlement since February, according to Reuters.

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