Published: Sun, May 06, 2018
Global Media | By Garry Long

1200 detained amid anti-Putin protests in Russian Federation

1200 detained amid anti-Putin protests in Russian Federation

Opposition politician Alexei Navalny and more than 1,300 of his supporters were arrested Saturday during demonstrations against the recently re-elected Russian President Vladimir Putin.

Over 1,000 anti-Kremlin activists were also arrested across the country after Mr Navalny called for people to take to the streets to protest against what he says is Mr Putin's czar-like rule.

"They wrote up two protocols on me: organizing a rally and disobeying police, but at half past midnight they chose to release me pending trial", he wrote on Twitter early on May 6.

Navalny, who has been repeatedly detained and jailed for organising similar protests, had called for rallies in more than 90 towns and cities, including Moscow and St Petersburg.

Putin won a landslide re-election victory in March, extending his grip over the world's largest country at least until 2024, making him the longest-lasting leader since Soviet dictator Josef Stalin who ruled for almost 30 years.

In the former imperial capital, several thousand people marched along Nevsky Prospect, Saint Petersburg's main thoroughfare, chanting "Putin is a thief" and "Down with the tsar".

A helicopter hovered overhead to monitor the crowd. It resembled the clashes that took place on the eve of Putin's inauguration in 2012 which saw the Kremlin beginning to crack down on an emerging opposition movement.

He even has the power to remove ministers, such as the former economy minister Alexei Ulyukayev who opposed Rosneft's resale of oil company Bashneft.Ulyukayev was arrested a year ago at Rosneft's headquarters, caught accepting a bribe that he said was a setup.

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"We are going out on the streets of our country against the establishment of a monarchy, against corruption, against inequality, censorship and lawlessness", a post from Navalny's team on social network VKontakte announced.

Police said they detained about 300 protesters for public order defenses Saturday, according to Russian state-run news agency TASS. Putin's election victory extended his lock on power to 24 years - longer than any Russian leader since Joseph Stalin.

Backed by state TV and the ruling party, and credited with an approval rating of around 80%, he is lauded by supporters as a father-of-the-nation figure who has restored national pride and expanded Moscow's global clout with interventions in Syria and Ukraine.

Navalny, his fiercest opponent, was barred from the race because he carries a fraud conviction, which he dismissed as a politically motivated move to keep him off the ballot.

Critics like Navalny accuse Putin of overseeing a corrupt authoritarian system, while the financial well-being of millions of Russians continues to deteriorate.

Elsewhere, many protesters were also detained in a rough manner, observers said.

Protesters chanted slogans against Putin's government as they launched paper planes - a reference to the app's logo.

Ahead of Saturday's rallies, several organizers from Navalny's group were detained in a number of regions. "Away with the csar", he said.

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