Thursday 21 September 2017

Thousands march against Putin despite crackdown

Russian anti-corruption blogger Alexey Navalny waves to the media as he arrives for further questioning at the Federal Investigation Commission building in Moscow.
Russian anti-corruption blogger Alexey Navalny waves to the media as he arrives for further questioning at the Federal Investigation Commission building in Moscow.

Roland Oliphant in Moscow

Thousands of anti-Putin protesters flooded the streets of Moscow yesterday despite Kremlin efforts to disrupt proceedings by summoning opposition leaders for interrogation.

A massive cyber attack hit several media outlets as demonstrators marked Russia Day, a public holiday, with a rally against the president.

Many of the most prominent opposition leaders -- including Alexei Navalny, an anti-corruption blogger, and Ksenia Sobchak, a socialite and TV presenter -- were absent because police had summoned them for questioning after armed raids on their homes on Monday.

Arrested

"It's horrible to sit here while you are having fun," Mr Navalny tweeted from the Investigative Committee headquarters.

Sergei Udaltsov, a left-wing politician, was one of the few to ignore the summons, saying he considered it his duty as one of the organisers to lead the protest.

None of the opposition leaders has been arrested but prosecutors announced a probe into more than £1m (€1.2m) in cash found at Ms Sobchak's flat. They said investigators were looking for evidence connecting the figures to violence during previous demonstrations in May.

Neither the cyber attacks nor volatile weather deterred the demonstrators, who marched through central Moscow shouting, "Putin is a thief!" and "Russia without Putin!"

Police claimed that 15,000 people had joined the crowd jamming Moscow's boulevard ring bearing banners ranging from the far right's black, gold and white imperial flags to the red of the far left. Opposition leaders put the number at 120,000.

Yesterday's rally passed off peacefully, despite the recent crackdown on the movement. (© Daily Telegraph, London)

Irish Independent

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