Putin Critic Navalny Held as Thousands Attend Russia Protests

تم نشره في Mon 12 June / Jun 2017. 12:00 AM
  • Large crowds gathered in St Petersburg - (Reuters)
  • Riot police are picking people out of crowd at random, says the BBC's Sarah Rainsford in Moscow's Tverskaya Street - (EPA)

Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny has been detained at home ahead of a planned unauthorised protest in Moscow, his wife says.

"Alexei has been arrested in the entrance to our block of flats," Yuliya Navalnaya wrote on Twitter, adding "our plans haven't changed".

Thousands of his supporters have heeded his call to protest against corruption.

OVD-Info, an NGO, says 121 people have been detained in Moscow and 137 in St Petersburg.

Riot police are pushing protesters back along Moscow's main street, Tverskaya, which runs up to the Kremlin.

The crowd is shouting "Russia without Putin", and "Down with the tsar," says the BBC's Steve Rosenberg, who is reporting from the demonstration.

Mr Navalny, who intends to stand for the Russian presidency next year, had been due to attend the unauthorised rally in central Moscow on Monday.

As well as Moscow, protesters angry at alleged corruption have taken to the streets in St Petersburg and several other Russian cities.

Image caption Riot police are picking people out of crowd at random, says the BBC's Sarah Rainsford in Moscow's Tverskaya Street

In a live broadcast by the Russian liberal TV channel Dozhd, protesters in St Petersburg could be heard shouting "shame" as they were detained by police. Among those arrested was Maxim Reznik, the city's legislative assembly deputy.

Prominent activist Daniil Ken said he was arrested as he left his home in St Petersburg. He urged people to join a rally at the city's Champ de Mars square. "Go for me, please!" he tweeted. He has since been released.

Police earlier detained several people at demonstrations in the cities of Vladivostok, Blagoveshchensk and Kazan.

Mr Navalny was earlier granted permission to hold a rally at Sakharova Avenue but changed the location - without permission - on the eve of the demonstration to Tverskaya Street, near the Kremlin.

One of the groups participating in the Moscow rally, which is over government plans to demolish Soviet-era apartment blocks in the city, said it would hold its protest on Sakharova Avenue as planned.

Permission was granted for demonstrations in 169 locations across the country, some of which are being broadcast live on the Navalny Live YouTube channel.

The protests coincide with a series of official events - including festivals, concerts and military enactments - due to take place across the country to mark Russia Day, the national holiday dedicated to the 1990 declaration of sovereignty.

Despite it being a public holiday in Russia, turnout in Monday's protests has so far been lower than similar rallies led by Mr Navalny in March, which led to hundreds of arrests.

Those protests were the largest since 2012, drawing thousands of people - including many teenagers - to rallies nationwide, angered by a report published by Mr Navalny that accused Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev of corruption.