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Asia Today ISSN 1861-4604 Tuesday, May 22, 2018

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Navalny arrested at massive anti-corruption rally in Russia

Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny

Share on Facebook January 28, 2018, Reporter : BNN, Reader : 148

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MOSCOW, Russia - On Sunday as hundreds of his supporters rallied across the country in a nationwide day of protest, the Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny was arrested in the capital, Moscow.

In the day long rally, supporters of Navalny rallied against corruption, calling on voters to boycott what they said would be a rigged presidential election on March 18.

The opposition leader and anti-corruption activist wrote on Twitter that he was arrested soon after he joined the rally in Moscow.

Several protesters posted videos on social media showing Navalny appearing on Moscow's main thoroughfare, which is a few hundred metres from the Kremlin.

He joined several hundred supporters taking part in the protest that was declared illegal by authorities.

After walking a short distance, Navalny was seen being surrounded by helmet-clad police officers, who wrestled him to the ground on the pavement, and then dragged him feet first into the patrol wagon.

He confirmed in a post on Twitter that he had been arrested and said in a message to his followers, “That does not matter. Come to Tverskaya. You're not coming out for me, but for your future.”

Ahead of the rally, he told his supporters in a video message, “Your life is at stake. How many more years do you want to live with these thieves, bigots and perverts in power? We’ve already endured this for 18 years.”

The opposition leader’s arrest came hours after the police forced their way into his campaign headquarters using power tools.

An online feed run by Navalny's supporters showed that the police had cited reports of a bomb threat.

Further, Roman Rubanov, a Navalny supporter said in a social media post that the police said they were looking into reports that there was a bomb in the office.

Police are said to have questioned his supporters and attempted to disrupt a live online broadcast of the protests.

While polls show that incumbent president Vladimir Putin is on track to easily win the March 18 election, Navalny has been barred from running. 

Navalny has said that he knows Putin will be re-elected but said that his boycott campaign is aimed at lowering voter turnout to try to take the shine off a Putin win.

The Kremlin has argued that the election will be fair and that Navalny and his supporters have minimal support.

It said in a statement Navalny and his supporters are irresponsibly trying to foment social anger which could lead to turmoil.

Raising the prospect of mass arrests, authorities have persistently refused to grant permission for rallies in Moscow and St Petersburg.

In Kemerovo, a city in western Siberia, 14 people were arrested at a rally, and at a protest in Yakutsk, other opposition supporters braved temperatures of -45C to rally on the streets.

Meanwhile, on Sunday, Putin’s spokesman, Dmitry Peskov, warned that unsanctioned rallies would lead to “certain consequences.”

A victory in the election will keep Vladimir Putin in the Kremlin until 2024.

 

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