Mass protests broke out across Russia against alleged corruption by President Vladimir Putin’s government. Opposition leader Alexei Navalny and other demonstrators were arrested for holding the large wave of anti-government protests.
The 40-year-old activist, who plans to run for the presidency next year, alerted Russians about a crackdown on democracy after publishing a report alleging Prime Minister Dmitri Medvedev of being corrupt. He says the prime minister is amassing an income that is far more than his official salary and is invested in the form of luxury yachts, estates and vineyards.
The mass protests were a part of a campaign called "He is not your Dimon," referring to Medvedev.
However, the government dismissed the investigation as electioneering, giving Navalny a 15-day jail sentence for breaking the law and provoking violence. Earlier the court in Moscow fined him $350 for organizing these protests.
In Russia, holding protests is considered illegal.
But scores of demonstrators, including children, took to streets of Moscow and other cities to express their anger over the corruption investigations; they were also outraged over Putin’s expected re-election in a presidential poll next year.
This is a clear indication that the new generation of young Russians does not want Vladimir Putin as their commander-in-chief. Yet a Kremlin spokesman criticized organizers for enticing children to protest on streets, claiming that they were paid to participate in the protest.
“In essence what we saw in several places, especially in Moscow — it was provocation and lies," Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said.
Roughly 8,000 people were reportedly arrested in the biggest show of defiance against Russian government since the 2011-12 anti-government protests.
As for Navalny, the 40-year-old is not ready to quit. He tweeted a picture from the court prior to his hearing. “Hello everyone from Tverskoy Court. The time will come when we will have them on trial (only honestly)."
"Even the slightest illusion of fair justice is absent here," Navalny said at the defendant's bench, denying all charges against him.
"Yesterday's events have shown that quite a large number of voters in Russia support the program of a candidate who stands for fighting corruption. These people demand political representation — and I strive to be their political representative."
Navalny plans to challenge Putin for president next year.
Banner and thumbnail credit: Reuters, Maxim Shemetov