Top Putin critic arrested amid protest crackdown

Posted June 12, 2017

Vladimir Putin's most vocal critic, opposition leader Alexei Navalny, has called on his thousands of supporters to join him at anti-corruption protests across Russian Federation today (12 June).

The protest Monday was part of a day of demonstrations throughout Russian Federation spearheaded by Alexei Navalny, the anti-corruption campaigner who has emerged as Russia's most prominent opposition figure and who has announced he intends to run for president next year.

As police detained demonstrators, hundreds of others shouted slogans including "Putin is a thief" and "Shame!"

"Alexei has been detained in the stairwell", his wife Yulia wrote on his Twitter account about 40 minutes before the anti-corruption rally called by the Kremlin critic was set to start in the city centre.

At least four people were detained on June 12 in the city of Blagoveshchensk, including the organizer of the unauthorized protests there, according to OVD-Info, a site that tracks protests and police actions in Russian Federation.

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Mr Navalny got permission to hold the rally at another location but said he had moved it after authorities tried to "humiliate" protesters.

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. He said the authorities pressured providers of audio, video, and stage equipment not to work with the organizers.

The video, which played a central role in galvanizing protesters for the March 26 demonstrations, was published briefly on the websites of the regional prosecutor's office in the central city of Yaroslavl and the St. Petersburg regional administration.

Navalny, Russia's most prominent opposition figure, has been arrested numerous times for a variety of accused crimes. Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny has called for anti-Kremlin protests on June 12, and activists in about 200 cities and towns are expected to turn out and demonstrate against government corruption. His report on alleged corruption connected to Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev was the focus of the March protests.

Mr Navalny, a former lawyer who was partly blinded after having a green liquid thrown in his face in April, has previously been jailed for his role in leading protests. It remains unclear too whether the Kremlin will let Navalny run for the presidency.