Kremlin Critic Alexei Navalny Detained Hours Before Anticorruption Rally

Posted June 12, 2017

Russian opposition leader Alexey Navalny has apparently been detained by authorities as protesters - engaged in a day of nationwide anti-corruption demonstrations - braced for clashes in Moscow on Monday.

In March, thousands joined protests in nearly 100 cities across Russian Federation, angered by a report Navalny published accusing Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev of corruption.

Kremlin critic Alexei Navalny, who organised the protest, was detained near the entrance to his home earlier on Monday as he was heading to the protest venue.

In a call for people to join him today, he wrote: "I want changes". There was no immediate statement from police.

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Tverskaya, known in Soviet times as Gorky Street, was closed off to traffic on Monday for an extensive commemoration of the national holiday Russia Day, including people dressed in historical Russian costumes. That means the protest will be illegal in the authorities' eyes and that riot police could be ordered to move in to break it up.

The AP reported seeing about 50 protesters get arrested.

The Moscow protest is due to run from 1100 to 1400 GMT.

For that reason, he said he was unilaterally switching the venue to Tverskaya Street, Moscow's main avenue near the Kremlin.

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It warned that authorities would take all necessary measures to prevent provocations or any action threatening public security. Two large men stood nearby as Navalny spoke, insisting he will "say obvious banal things, but not be afraid and say them out loud".

Demonstrations were being held or planned in more than 200 cities and towns to protest what Navalny says is a system of corruption and cronyism that President Vladimir Putin presides over.

Officials had set up barriers along Tverskaya Street, and were admitting members of the public only once they had passed through airport-style metal detectors.

For now, polls suggest Navalny, who was jailed for 15 days for disobeying a policeman at the last protest, has scant chance of unseating Putin, who enjoys high ratings. Campaigners had hoped more than 10,000 people would attend in St. Petersburg and in Moscow.

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Medvedev said Navalny's allegations were politically motivated "nonsense" and called him a charlatan. "I want changes. I want to live in a modern democratic state and I want our taxes to be converted into roads, schools and hospitals, not into yachts, palaces and vineyards", he said.