Over 600 people detained after largest Moscow protest

Over 600 people detained after largest Moscow protest
United Bank for Africa

Over 600 people, including opposition leader, Alexei Navalny, have been detained by Russian police for participating in an unsanctioned rally in central Moscow at the weekend, the report said.

Navalny was detained as soon as he emerged from the underground to lead the rally.

“He was expected to be remanded in custody for 15 days on a charge of organising an unsanctioned public gathering,’’ his lawyer said.

An independent monitoring group, OVD-Info, said the number of those detained exceeded 1,000, according to a statement on the group’s website.

The opposition movement planned protests in 100 of Russia’s largest cities, Sunday, all designed to address complaints of entrenched corruption throughout the government.

The Moscow rally, with several thousand participants, was the city’s largest since the protest movements of 2011-2013, which were fuelled by contentious elections for President Vladimir Putin, the parliament and the capital city’s mayor.

Navalny, 40, came in second in Moscow’s 2013 mayoral race and has announced intentions to run for president next year.

However, a recently upheld conviction on corruption charges could preclude him from the ballot.

His supporters have widely denounced the charges as trumped up.

The European Union and the U.S. condemned the detentions of the protesters at the Sunday rallies.

The detentions “prevented the exercise of basic freedoms of expression, association and peaceful assembly, which are fundamental rights enshrined in the Russian Constitution,” the EU’s External Action department said.

The U.S. State Department described the detentions as an “affront to core democratic values.”