Under the banner “He is not our tsar,” Russians have taken to the streets to decry a fourth term by President Vladimir Putin. Police have arrested opposition leader Alexei Navalny along with dozens of other protesters.
Russian police on Saturday arrested dozens of protesters rallying against President Vladimir Putin ahead of his inauguration on Monday.
In central Moscow, police arrested Navalny along with several others. “Navalny appeared on Pushkinskaya Square and was quickly detained,” said opposition politician Leoni Volkov. “The detention was absolutely illegal.”
At least 15 people including a journalist were detained in the Siberian city of Krasnoyarsk, according to an independent monitoring group. “Detentions were conducted in a rough manner,” said the monitor OVD-Info.
An additional ten protesters were arrested in southern Siberian city of Barnaul, according to opposition leader Navalny’s team.
In St. Petersburg, hundreds of people crowds gathered, chanting: “He is not our tsar.”
‘He is not our tsar’
Navalny, who was blocked from running in the March presidential election, had urged Russians to take to the streets and protest against Putin’s fourth presidential term.
“Craven old man Putin thinks he is a tsar,” the opposition leader said in another tweet ahead of the protests. “But he is not our tsar.”
Although protests have sprung up in scores of cities across Russia, authorities have refused to give organizers permission.
‘Right to protest’
Human rights groups have warned Russian security services from taking a heavy-handed approach against protesters, with Amnesty International on Friday urging authorities to allow peaceful proteststo go ahead unhindered.
“The Russian authorities must learn from their past mistakes, when the repeated refusal to grant permission to hold protest rallies has been a patent violation of human rights,” said Denis Krivosheev, who serves as Amnesty’s deputy director of Eastern Europe and Central Asia.
“Rather than brutally stamping out dissent, the Russian government should respect the rights to freedom of expression and peaceful assembly. Thousands are expected to take to the streets in Moscow and other Russian cities on Saturday, and it is their right to protest.”
Russia witnessed one of its largest mass protests since the end of the collapse of the Soviet Union in the run-up to Putin’s third term as president. In response, Russian security services launched a brutal crackdown, arresting hundreds of protesters.
ls/jm (AP, AFP, dpa)