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“Think of the consequences”

Russia actually acknowledges anti-corruption protests after detaining opposition leader

Russia actually acknowledges anti-corruption protests after detaining opposition leader

Russian police detained dozens of people, including opposition leader Alexei Navalny, in anti-corruption protests that drew thousands in Moscow and around the country on Sunday. The protests were said to be the largest of their kind since the wave of anti-Kremlin demonstrations in 2011 and 2012.

Navalny, who called the demonstrations, was detained by police around 2 p.m. shortly after arriving at Tverskaya Street in Moscow. A Reuters reporter snapped a photo of police putting him into the back of a truck.

Earlier this month, an organization Navalny founded to investigate corruption in the Russian government released a report alleging that Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev had funneled more than $1 billion in bribes through charities and companies run by his associates to buy himself vineyards and yachts. The Russian government dismissed the allegations as a media stunt put on by Navalny, who intends to run for president in 2018.

Reuters reports that at a rally in the far eastern city of Vladivostok, 30 people were detained after unfurling banners that read “The prime minister should answer.”

In Moscow, a voice over loudspeaker urged protesters to “think of the consequences” and disperse.

Besides in Vladivostok, hundreds turned out in cities across Siberia and central Russia. The government denied protesters permits for the demonstrations; organizers encouraged people to just turn out and walk.

Opposition supporters attend a rally in the southern Russian city of Stavropol, March 26, 2017. The banner reads "Down with corruption in power." REUTERS/Eduard Korniyenko

The demonstrations appear to be the largest coordinated protests in Russia since the 2011 and 2012 rallies that broke out after allegations by the opposition party that parliamentary elections were rigged.

Nalvany took to Twitter shortly after his arrest Saturday to say that he was OK and to encourage his supporters to focus on the issue of the day: government corruption.

Russian state media, which doesn’t usually acknowledge dissent, did cover some of the protests Sunday. They also drew the attention of a senior lawmaker, Frants Klintsevich of the ruling United Russia party, who said, “These demonstrations probably raise a lot of justified criticisms and concerns.”

Cover: REUTERS/Yuri Maltsev

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