Russian Opposition Leader Reportedly Released From Police Custody

07 May, 2018, 00:35 | Author: Roderick Gutierrez
  • RUSSIA: Security operatives arrest opposition leader, activists before Putin's inauguration

The European Union on Saturday condemned "police brutality and mass arrests" as Russian authorities responded to protests in some 90 cities ahead of the inauguration of President Vladimir Putin for what will be his fourth presidential term.

Anti-Kremlin protesters poured into the streets of Moscow after Navalny had called for demonstrations in more than 90 towns and cities across Russian Federation against what he says is Putin's autocratic, tsar-like rule.

Footage of the detention posted online showed five policemen carting him off to a waiting van by his arms and legs.

Independent monitoring group OVD-Info said almost 1,600 people had been detained by police in 26 cities.

He has gathered support across Russian Federation but it is still only marginal, tiny in fact compared with the indisputably popular president.

Among the crowd on Pushkin Square were pockets of pro-Putin supporters, many of them young men, who shouted "Our country, our rules" and "We are for Putin".

"At the rally in Moscow, people in the crowd were seen holding up banners saying "I've had enough" and "I am against corruption", chanting "Putin is a thief" and "away with the czar".

Navalny, who has organized large street protests and published numerous reports documenting alleged corruption by Russia's ruling elite, was barred from running in the March presidential election due to a conviction on financial-crimes charges he contends were fabricated.

Al Jazeera's Rory Challands, reporting from Moscow, said it was hard to tell exactly how many people had shown up at the protests due to different estimations from police and protesters themselves.

In Moscow, where more than 700 protesters were arrested, human rights figures called for an investigation into why people claiming to be Cossacks were allowed to assist the police crackdown.

Authorities in Moscow warned Navalny supporters in advance against taking part in the protest, calling it "absolutely unlawful".

When is Putin's inauguration? .

Ahead of the protests, supporters of Navalny were detained in six Russian cities, being held on charges of violating public assembly laws and resisting arrest. "He has been doing it for 18 years and has done nothing good for it", said Moscow demonstrator Dmitry Nikitenko.

Police detained at least 1,200 people across the country.

"Leaders who are secure in their own legitimacy don't arrest their peaceful opponents for protesting", she wrote. His new presidential term will keep him in office until 2024, and Moscow is rife with speculation that the 65-year-old Putin will seek to remain in power for as long as he lives.

Putin has dismissed Navalny as a troublemaker bent on sowing chaos on behalf of Washington.



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