الإثنين , يونيو 8 2020

Putin critic among 'hundred held'



Protesters in Manezh Square

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Steve Rosenberg: Supporters of Alexei Navalny filled the square

Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny and more than 100 other demonstrators have been arrested at a rally in central Moscow, activists say.

Navalny had urged protesters to gather in Manezh Square near the Kremlin after his brother was sentenced to jail.

Police detained Navalny at the protest and took him home, where he has been under house arrest since February.

He says the legal cases against him and his brother are motivated by his opposition to President Vladimir Putin.

Hours earlier, a court in Moscow handed Alexei Navalny a suspended prison sentence of three-and-a-half years for defrauding two firms. His brother Oleg was given a three-and-a-half-year custodial sentence for the same offence.

Navalny accused authorities of trying to punish him by jailing his brother, and called for his supporters to gather in central Moscow in protest.

Around 2,000 people gathered in temperatures below -10C.

Alexei Navalny (C), Russian opposition leader and anti-corruption blogger, walks to attend an opposition rally in Moscow December 30, 2014Anti-corruption activist Alexei Navalny is Russia’s most well-known opposition figure

Police officers detain Russian opposition activist and anti-corruption crusader Alexei Navalny, 38, centre, on his way to attend a rally in Manezh Square in Moscow, Russia, Tuesday, Dec. 30,Navalny tried to reach Manezh square but was arrested before he could reach the rally

Police officers detain a protester during an unsanctioned protest in Moscow, Russia, Tuesday, Dec. 30, 2014At least 171 protesters were detained by police, said rights group Ovd Info

Pro-government protesters are staging a counter-demonstration nearby, our correspondent Steve Rosenberg reports.

At least 171 people were detained by police said OVD Info, a campaign group that monitors political detentions. However there was no official confirmation of the number of arrests.

‘Take to the streets’

After the sentencing of his brother on Tuesday morning, a visibly shocked Navalny called on his supporters to “take to the streets”.

Upon arriving at the rally, police detained the opposition leader and drove him to his house in a police van.

Navalny twitterNavalny released a selfie of himself on the way to the rally

After his arrest, he sent a tweet saying that he “had not got as far as the square”.

“I call on everyone not to leave until they are forced to,” he said. “They cannot arrest everyone”.

Just before his arrest, he told reporters that his motivation was “not my brother, my family, myself or some specific people” but “this disgusting outrage that has been going for many years”.

Prosecutors had demanded 10 years in prison for Alexei Navalny and eight years for his brother Oleg. One prominent MP from President Putin’s United Russia party said they should launch an appeal for a stronger sentence.

Alexei Navalny has been under house arrest since February as part of a separate five-year suspended sentence for the alleged theft of 16m roubles from a timber firm in 2009.

He is the most high-profile opposition figure in Russia and came second in Moscow’s mayoral election last year, with 27% of the vote.

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