MOSCOW (Reuters) – Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny and some 1,600 anti-Kremlin activists were arrested on Saturday during street protests against Vladimir Putin before his inauguration for a fourth term as president.
Nawalny had demanded protests in more than 90 cities across Russia against what he says was the autocratic tsarist rule of Putin.
Before his detention, he briefly turned to supporters in the center of Moscow and led them in songs of "Down with the Tsar!".
"You said that this city belongs to Putin, is that true?" Navalny asked his supporters. "Do you need a Tsar?" He asked, shouting a collective roar of "No!"
Putin overwhelmingly won the re-election in March and extended his reign over Russia for another six years ̵
Nawalny, who was expelled from the election for naming a false pretext, was arrested shortly after his arrival on Pushkin Square in Moscow, where young people read "Russia without Putin!" And "Putin is a thief" sang!
Video footage showed five police officers dragging him to a waiting van with arms and legs, a scene repeated dozens of times with his followers.
Another opposition politician, Ilya Yashin, said the police are planning to The punishment for such an offense, if repeated, can be a fine and up to 30 days in prison.
Early on Sunday, just after midnight, Navalny said on Twitter that he was suspended by the police in court.
"NOTHING WILL CHANGE"
Navalny, who had been detained several times for similar protests, said he was proud to have made it to the rally.
19659002] A demonstrator in Moscow wearing a rabbit mask with the inscription "The Czar of Animals" said he was not sure what the protest would achieve.
"I have the feeling that people are gathering to let off steam and that nothing will change," said 31-year-old Alexander, who did not want to give his last name.
OVD-Info, a human rights organization monitoring imprisonment, said it received reports of the arrest of 1,575 people across Russia by the police, nearly half of them in Moscow. He cited his sources in the Moscow protests and said that Kremlin Cossacks had beaten leather-whipped demonstrators and thus started a fight.
A police spokesman said around 1,500 people protested in Moscow, of which around 300 were arrested, the Interfax news agency reported. Reuters reporters estimated the quantity at several thousand.
Protests also took place in the Far East, Siberia and St. Petersburg, where Interfax led the police with about 200 people arrested. In the city of Yekaterinburg, about 1,500 kilometers east of Moscow, a Reuters reporter saw over 1,000 people protesting and shouting anti-Putin slogans.
FATHER OF THE NATION
Putin, 65, has been in power since 2000, either as president or prime minister. Supported by state television and the ruling party and with an approval rating of about 80. Www.mjfriendship.de/de/index.php?op…80&Itemid=58 As supporter he is praised by the followers as the father of the people, the restored national pride and expanded Moscow's global clout through interventions in Syria and Ukraine.
The authorities consider most protests illegal and argue that their time and place have not been previously approved and that the police have a duty to protect public order.
Putin has dismissed Navalny as a troublemaker out to sow chaos for Washington. Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev, a close Putin ally, has called Navalny a political charlatan.
Putin is to be officially opened on Monday in a Kremlin ceremony.
With more than 56 million votes, almost 77 percent of the vote, his electoral victory in March was the largest of its kind and the greatest of any post-Soviet Russian leader his allies say is unmistakable government mandate.
European observers said there was no real choice in the elections and complained about unfair pressure on critical voices. Critics such as Nawalny accuse Putin of overseeing a corrupt authoritarian system and of illegally annexing the Ukrainian Crimea in 2014, a move that isolates Russia internationally.
Additional coverage by Katja Golubkova, Polina Ivanova, Gleb Stolyarov, Maria Zwetkova, Denis Pinchuk, Gabrielle Tetrault-Farber in Moscow and Natalia Shurmina in Yekaterinburg; Letter from Andrew Osborn; Arrangement by Kevin Liffey and Jonathan Oatis