Thousands of anti-government activists celebrated Russia Day Monday by protesting in the streets of Moscow and other Russian cities. The protests resulted in hundreds of arrests, including that of vocal Kremlin critic, Alexei Navalny.
“Alexei Navalny has been detained by police officers; he has been taken to the MVD (Ministry of Internal Affairs) department for drawing up protocols on administrative violations,” Moscow police said in a statement.
According to police, Navalny, 41, was arrested along with several others because they relocated a rally from a sanctioned site a more prominent area. The Associated Press reported that more than 200 arrests were made at another unsanctioned rally in St. Petersburg.
Police reported to the Interfax news service that there were no violations and no arrests made during sanctioned opposition rallies in the cities of Novosibirsk, Tomsk and Barnaul.
Navalny was arrested on March 26 when anti-government protests drew similar crowds. A day later, he was convicted of resisting police orders and organizing a public gathering without a permit which earned him a sentence of 15 days in jail and a $350 fine. He will reportedly face similar charges for his actions on Monday.
Parades, parties, historical reenactments and protests took place throughout the country on Russia Day, the national holiday of the Russian Federation.
Police arrested Navalny at his home as he was headed to the protest on Moscow’s iconic Tverskaya Street. Thousands of protestors attended the rally, often shouting “Shame,” “Putin is a thief!” and “Freedom to Navalny!”
Navalny has won favor from followers via his anti-corruption videos on social media that attack Putin and other Russian leaders. His calls for change are dismissed by state television, but he has become extremely popular on YouTube, Twitter and Instagram.
Navalny has been opening campaign offices throughout Russia and collecting signatures required to be on next year’s ballot opposing Russian President Vladimir Putin.
According to USA Today, Navalny’s candidacy faces legal obstacles. “Navalny was convicted of embezzlement in February in a highly publicized case that he dismissed as a government-generated sham. He was sentenced to five years in prison. That sentence was suspended, but the conviction could disqualify him from a presidential run.”
Putin has not announced whether he will run again in 2018, but it is widely assumed that he will seek re-election.
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