Hundreds arrested in Russia amid anti-Putin protests

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Russian police detain a protester at a demonstration against President Vladimir Putin in St.Petersburg, Russia, Saturday, May 5, 2018. A group that monitors political repression in Russia says more than 350 people have been arrested in a day of nationwide protests against the upcoming inauguration of Vladimir Putin for a new six-year term as president. […]

 Russians angered by the impending inauguration of Vladimir Putin to a new term as president demonstrated throughout the country on Saturday. Police arrested hundreds, including protest organizer Alexei Navalny, the anti-corruption campaigner who is Putin’s most prominent foe.

Police seized Navalny by the arms and legs and carried the thrashing activist from Moscow’s Pushkin Square, where thousands were gathered for an unauthorized protest.

Demonstrations under the slogan “He is not our czar” took place throughout the country, from Yakutsk in the far northeast to St. Petersburg and Kaliningrad on the fringes of Europe.

OVD-Info, an organization that monitors political repression, said more than 350 people had been arrested nationwide, but that figure came before protests in the western reaches of Russia had ended. The Interfax news agency cited a police source as saying more than 140 people had been arrested just in Moscow alone, where the square was cleared after about two hours but demonstrators milled around nearby.

Navalny was to be charged with organizing an unauthorized meeting, Russian news agencies said, though when he would face a judge was not immediately clear. Navalny has served several multi-week stretches in jail on similar charges.

In St. Petersburg, police blocked off a stretch of Nevsky Prospekt as a crowd of about 1,000 marched along the renowned avenue. Video showed some demonstrators being detained.

Putin is to be inaugurated for a six-year term on Monday after winning re-election in March with 77 percent of the vote. Navalny had hoped to challenge him on the ballot but was blocked because of a felony conviction in a case that supporters regard as falsified in order to marginalize him.

Navalny has called nationwide demonstrations several times in the past year, whose turnout has rattled the Kremlin.

Saturday’s protests attracted crowds of hundreds in cities that are far remote from Moscow, challenging authorities’ contention that Navalny and other opposition figures appeal only to a small, largely urban elite.

The Latest on anti-Putin protests in Russia (all times local):

6:40 p.m.

A group that monitors political repression in Russia says more than 1,000 people have been arrested in a day of nationwide protests against the upcoming inauguration of Vladimir Putin for a new six-year term as president.

The OVD-Info group said at least 574 people were arrested in Moscow, the Russian capital, where demonstrators on Saturday crowded into one of the city’s main squares.

Overall, 1,029 people were arrested in 19 cities, the group reported.

The demonstrations were called for by anti-corruption campaigner Alexei Navalny. He was among those arrested in Moscow and is to be charged with resisting police officers, Russian news reports said.

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4:15 p.m.

Police in Russia’s second-largest city have blocked off a large section of St. Petersburg’s main avenue and are arresting demonstrators taking part in a protest before President Vladimir Putin’s inauguration for a new term.

Video broadcast on the YouTube channel of protest organizer Alexei Navalny on Saturday showed the wide Nevsky Prospekt avenue blocked off around Gostiny Dvor, the sprawling trade complex that is one of the city’s landmarks.

A crowd estimated at more than 1,000 had earlier begun marching down Nevsky. There was no immediate tally of the number of arrests.

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3:50 p.m.

A group that monitors political repression in Russia says more than 350 people have been arrested in a day of nationwide protests against the upcoming inauguration of Vladimir Putin for a new six-year term as president.

The OVD-Info group said the largest number of arrests as of Saturday mid-afternoon was in Chelyabinsk, where 97 people were detained. It said in a protest in Yakutsk in the far northeast, 75 were detained but all have since been released.

Thousands of people crowded into Moscow’s Pushkin Square for an unauthorized demonstration and OVD-Info said more than 50 people there were arrested. Among them was protest organizer Alexei Navalny, the anti-corruption campaigner who is Putin’s most prominent foe.

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2:55 p.m.

Russian police have detained opposition leader Alexei Navalny at a demonstration against President Vladimir Putin in central Moscow.

Thousands of demonstrators denouncing Putin’s upcoming inauguration into a fourth term gathered Saturday in the capital’s Pushkin Square.

Video showed police carrying a struggling Navalny, who is Putin’s most prominent foe, out of the square, carrying him by the legs and arms.

The unauthorized protest was part of a day of nationwide demonstrations under the slogan “He is not our czar.” Police made arrests at demonstrations in some other cities, but there was no overall figure immediately available.

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2:40 p.m.

Thousands of demonstrators crowded into one of Moscow’s main squares on Saturday as part of nationwide protests against the upcoming inauguration of President Vladimir Putin to a new term.

Police in riot gear waded into the crowd on Pushkin Square and were seen grabbing some demonstrators and leading them away, but there were no immediate moves to disperse the unauthorized gathering. A helicopter hovered overhead to monitor the crowd.

The protests Saturday under the slogan “He is not our czar” are organized by Putin’s most prominent foe, anti-corruption campaigner Alexei Navalny.

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12 p.m.

Demonstrators are holding protests throughout Russia against the upcoming inauguration of Vladimir Putin for a fourth term as Russian president.

The protests Saturday under the slogan “He is not our czar” are organized by Putin’s most prominent foe, anti-corruption campaigner Alexei Navalny.

News reports and social media postings said protests had attracted hundreds or more in at least 10 cities in the Far East and Siberia. Some arrests by police were reported, but no overall figure was available.

Larger demonstrations are expected in the afternoon in Moscow, where protesters aim to hold an unauthorized march on one of the capital’s main thoroughfares, and in St. Petersburg.

Putin will be inaugurated Monday for a six-year term.

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