European Union calls on Russian Federation to release protesters "without delay"

A Russian court on Monday jailed opposition leader Alexey Navalny for 15 days on charges of resisting arrest following street demonstrations in several major cities on Sunday.

The protests drew comparisons with the mass anti-government rallies that swept Russian Federation in 2011 over alleged vote-rigging after a parliamentary election, which snowballed into the biggest challenge against Putin since he took power in 2000.

Thousands of anti-corruption protesters took to the streets of Moscow and other cities across Russian Federation on Sunday, demanding the resignation of Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev.

The "cannot respect those who deliberately misguide people and who instigated these illegal activities yesterday", Peskov said.

Keir Giles, a director of the Conflict Studies Research Centre, told VICE News that the demonstrations, though not large in size, were remarkable in Russia's modern political climate.

The opposition leader has declared his intention to run for president next year, an election in which the president, Vladimir Putin, is expected to stand for. A charismatic figure popular among factions of protesters, Navalny has been convicted on multiple counts of fraud and embezzlement, which he says are politically motivated, false allegations. They concluded with a massive protest on 6 May 2012, the day before Putin returned to the presidency after four years as prime minister. "Now our task is to force them into concessions".

"We can not agree to these appeals", the Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov told reporters in Moscow, adding that protest rallies needed to comply with Russian laws. Organisers got people to join the demonstrations on the "lie" that they'd been approved by the authorities, he said.

The crowds gathered to protest government corruption, with many people calling for Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev's resignation.

More than a thousand people were detained along with Mr Navalny during the protest in Moscow, and hundreds more were held in cities across the country. The court rejected his request.

Tens of thousands took to the streets across Russian Federation in protests that were largely not authorized by authorities.

The Council of Europe said the detentions of the protesters raised concerns about freedom of expression and assembly. In St. Petersburg, organisers said more than 10,000 participated and at least 130 were detained. Pro-Kremlin television host Vladimir Solovyov accused Navalny during a talk show on Sunday of being a "paid provocateur" seeking to "destroy" the country. "This means that the new phase of the radical opposition will focus not on the elections themselves but on mass street unrest", he said on Facebook. Ben Sasse (R-Neb.) released a statement questioning why no one at State or the White House had commented on the wholesale arrests.

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  • Leroy Wright