Pro­test­ers rally on Putin’s 65th birth­day

The Standard Journal - - LOCAL -

MOSCOW (AP) — In a chal­lenge to Pres­i­dent Vladimir Putin on his 65th birth­day, pro­test­ers ral­lied across Rus­sia on Satur­day, heed­ing op­po­si­tion leader Alexei Navalny’s call to pres­sure au­thor­i­ties into let­ting him en­ter the pres­i­den­tial race.

Po­lice al­lowed demon­stra­tors in Moscow to rally near the Krem­lin in an ap­par­ent de­sire to avoid mar­ring Putin’s birth­day with a crack­down. A big­ger rally in St. Petersburg, Putin’s home­town, was dis­banded by po­lice af­ter pro­test­ers blocked traf­fic and at­tempted to break through po­lice cor­dons.

The ral­lies came as Navalny him­self is serv­ing a 20-day jail term for call­ing for an ear­lier un­sanc­tioned protest.

In Moscow, sev­eral hun­dred pro­test­ers, most of them stu­dents, gath­ered on down­town Pushkin­skaya Square, wav­ing Rus­sian flags and chant­ing “Rus­sia will be free!” and “Let Navalny run!” Po­lice warned them that the rally wasn’t sanc­tioned and urged them to dis­perse, but let the protest con­tinue for hours with­out try­ing to break it up.

Dmitri Lovet­sky / As­so­ci­ated Press

Riot po­lice of­fi­cers de­tain a pro­tester dur­ing a rally in St.Petersburg, Rus­sia.

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