Friday 18 August 2017

Navalny jailed over street protests

Riot police detain a protester during a demonstration in central Moscow yesterday. Photo: Reuters
Riot police detain a protester during a demonstration in central Moscow yesterday. Photo: Reuters
Protesters scuffle with police. Photo: AP

Jane Rudnitsky in Moscow

Most of the hundreds detained at Monday's anti-Kremlin protests in Moscow were released overnight, while opposition leader Alexey Navalny was sentenced to 30 days in jail for his role in organising the unsanctioned rally.

Of the more than 800 people detained in Moscow, at least 32 were still being held at 4am local time yesterday, according to OVD-Info, a group that provides legal aid.

Mr Navalny, a 41-year-old lawyer whose use of social media has helped mobilise a new generation to protest against Russian corruption, quipped on Twitter that his sentence meant he would miss the July 15 Depeche Mode concert. Another opposition leader, Ilya Yashin, was sentenced to 15 days, according to his Twitter account.

Over 1,000 were detained in cities around the country at Monday's protests against official corruption, with the largest rallies reported in Moscow and St Petersburg.

The turnout, which like the last major Navalny-backed demonstrations in March was driven in part by people in their teens and twenties, suggested government interference and police pressure aren't enough to discourage attendance.

Mr Navalny's sentence was reasonable because his call for protests in the centre of the capital were "counterproductive," Mikhail Fedotov, the head of the Kremlin's human rights council, said on Ekho Moskvy radio yesterday.

The number of arrests brought about a rare criticism of the Kremlin from President Donald Trump's administration, which called on Russia to "immediately release all peaceful protesters", White House spokesman Sean Spicer said at a news briefing.

Despite Mr Trump's announced intention to improve relations when he took office, several US senators said they'd struck a bipartisan deal to expand sanctions against Russia that will be debated this week.

This marks the second jail term this year for Mr Navalny, who says he will run in Russia's March 2018 election against President Vladimir Putin.

Irish Independent

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