White House condemns arrests at Russian protests

Alexey Navalny, a popular anti-corruption leader who plans to challenge Putin at next year's election - if he can get on the ballot.

Navalny was among those arrested Monday.

Moscow city hall labeled the change in the protest site a provocation and said that demonstrations would be viewed as a threat to public order, leading to the detentions.

"We are against the corruption that is costing the future of our young people", said Moscow protester Maria Badyrova. We saw dozens of people plucked from the crowd - many of them young - and dragged roughly towards police buses.

A man looks over an anti-aircraft machine gun during a re-enactment festival which coincides with an anti-corruption protest organised by opposition leader Alexei Navalny, on Tverskaya Street in central Moscow, Russia, June 12, 2017.

After the detentions, the protest appeared to be breaking up, but some demonstrators remained.

After thousands of people started marching through the center of the city chanting "Russia without Putin", "shame", and "Down with the Czar", the police started trying to disperse the crowd by handing out arrests. While they did report on the arrest of Navalny, they remained silent on the protests in the streets.

Although it was not immediately clear if Monday's protests were larger in aggregate than the March demonstrations, the rallies underlined the deep dismay with the government.

Navalny was arrested outside his home en route to the rally.

Navalny was arrested Monday afternoon outside his home in Moscow as he headed for an unsanctioned protest rally.

A police spokesman told Russian news agencies that Navalny was accused of violating the law on organizing public meetings and of disobeying a police officer.

The scale of Monday's protests in Moscow and smaller ones in St. Petersburg and scores of other cities suggests Navalny has maintained his campaign's momentum despite more than 1,000 people being arrested after the last such protest in March. Navalny was also detained at those marches and jailed for 15 days.

Navalny, who is mounting a long-shot bid to unseat Putin in a presidential election next year, had called for mass protests in Moscow and other cities against what he says is a corrupt system of rule overseen by Russian President Vladimir Putin. The protesters shouted "Putin is a thief", "Putin out" and "Russia without thieves".

A spokeswoman for Navalny said electricity has been cut in his Moscow offices. Amnesty believes Mr Navalny was arrested to prevent him from joining protesters. But Monday's protests could demonstrate that it has significant support throughout the vast country.

Hundreds of protesters had been also detained during the March rallies against corruption.

She posted a photo of him getting into a police auto in the street outside their home.

Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny talks to journalists during a hearing at a court in Moscow, Russia, June 12, 2017.

On Twitter, Navalny's wife, Yulia, encouraged Muscovites to go to the main thoroughfare of Tverskaya Street, blocked off with barricades ostensibly for historical reenactments for Russia Day, rather than going to officially-sanctioned protest zones.

The mood was tense as some groups of protesters vowed to go to the authorised location and anxious doing otherwise could get them arrested.

  • Leroy Wright