Russians seeing red
Protests, opposition man held
POLICE detained hundreds of protesters across Russia yesterday, including opposition leader Alexei Navalny, after thousands took to the streets to demonstrate against corruption and demand the resignation of Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev.
The protests come a year before a presidential election that Vladimir Putin is expected to contest, running for what would be a fourth term.
Opinion polls suggest the liberal opposition, which Navalny represents, has little chance of fielding a candidate capable of unseating Putin, who enjoys high ratings. But Navalny and his supporters hope to channel public discontent over official corruption to attract more support.
A reporter saw police detain Navalny, who hopes to run against Putin, as he walked along central Moscow’s Tverskaya Street with supporters.
Police put Navalny in a truck around which hundreds of protesters crowded, trying to open its doors.
“I’m happy that so many people came out (on to the streets) from the east (of the country) to Moscow,” Navalny said, moments before he was detained.
The Kremlin said on Friday that plans for the central Moscow protest, which the city’s authorities had rejected, were an illegal provocation.
Grigory Okhotin, one of the founders of OVD Info, a human rights organisation that monitors detentions, said about 600 people had been detained in Moscow yesterday.
Police said about 7 000 to 8 000 people were on Tverskaya Street and surrounding areas by mid-afternoon.
Police lined up on Manezh Square at the end of Tverskaya Street and drove protesters away from the Kremlin’s walls.
Navalny called the protests after publishing allegations that Medvedev, the prime minister and former president, had amassed a huge fortune that far outstripped his official salary.
Medvedev’s spokeswoman called the allegations “propagandistic attacks” unworthy of detailed comment and said they amounted to pre-election posturing by Navalny. – Reuters