Police detain hundreds in Russia’s recent anti-corruption protests
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In response to the allegations of a recent YouTube documentary detailing Russian Primes Minister Dmitry Medvedev’s involvement in corruption schemes, released by opposition leader Alexie Navalny and his Fund to Fight Corruption, thousands of people rallied in protest throughout Russian cities last Sunday.
Prime Minister Medvedev was once viewed favorably as a moderate pro-Western and technocratic counterpart to Putin. But the recent documentary, which claims that Medvedev used a network of businesses and charities owned by friends and family to launder millions and amass a huge collection of mansions, yachts, and vineyards, the cost of which far exceeds the capacity of his government salary, has led people to call for his resignation, the LA Times reports.
Despite not being granted a protest permit by city authorities, the protests were the largest Russia has ever seen since the 2011-2012 rallies against alleged vote-rigging in the Parliamentary election and police reported that about 7,000 to 8,000 people marched on central Moscow. According to civil rights group OVD-INFO, police detained more than 700 protestors in the capital alone and some of the protests turned violent, with police being accused of using excessive force.
Police in Moscow arrested Navalny, and members of his staff at the Anti Corruption Fund were also detained. Even then, he urged his supporters to continue the protests without him via Twitter, according to the UK Independent.
Navalny announced that the protests would kick off his presidential campaign ahead of the 2018 vote, though legally he cannot run because of a criminal record and a suspended sentence of fraud. His lawyers are currently working on appealing the conviction. Though opinion polls suggest that Navalny has little chance against Putin, who enjoys high ratings, The Moscow Times reports that he has the younger generation on his side and extensive experience in investigating corruption amongst top Russian officials.
Medvedev’s spokeswoman has dismissed Navalny’s accusations as “propagandistic attacks”, refused to give any detailed comments on the matter, and asserts that the matter is nothing more than pre-election posturing on behalf of Navalny.