Russian Opposition Leader Detained by Authorities During Corruption Demonstrations

Putin critic Navalny, eyeing power, organizes anti-graft protests

Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny, a top critic of Vladimir Putin, was arrested Monday on his way to an unsanctioned protest, the Associated Press reported. Navalny was arrested, along with hundreds of others, and was jailed for 15 days after being convicted of disobeying a police officer.

"Alexei has been arrested in the entrance to our block of flats", Yuliya Navalny wrote on Twitter, adding "our plans haven't changed". He said interference had prevented contractors from building a stage at the agreed venue.

Navalny was on the way to a demonstration when he was detained at his home, according to his wife. There was no immediate statement from police.

After Navalny announced the switch, the Moscow prosecutor's office warned that "any attempts to hold an unauthorized event on Tversakaya Street" would be illegal and "law enforcement organs will be forced to take all necessary measures" to keep order.

Meanwhile Navalny's YouTube channel, which had been broadcasting live to more than 50,000 people as protests across Russian Federation got underway, lost light and sound in the studio.

Navalny called the anti-corruption protests after releasing a film alleging that Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev controls a vast fortune through a network of foundations. Police arrested 1,500 people nationwide, including more than 1,000 in Moscow, and a handful are being prosecuted for attacking police.

Rallies have been planned in 169 different locations for Russia Day, a national holiday, on Monday (12 June).

Although city authorities had agreed to a location for the Moscow protest, Navalny called for it to be moved to one of Moscow's main thoroughfares.

A regional security official, Vladimir Chernikov, told Ekho Moskvy radio that police would not interfere with demonstrators on the street - as long as they did not carry placards or shout slogans.

The nationwide scale of the March protests and the participation of a large number of young people came as a surprise to the Kremlin, which faces an uphill task to ensure a decisive re-election for Putin in nine months' time amid a steep fall in living standards after the longest recession in two decades.

There are expectations of numbers matching those reached on 26 March when several tens of thousands of protesters gathered behind Navalny, leader of the opposition and candidate in next year's presidential election.

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