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Russian opposition leader Navalny detained at anti-corruption rally

By
Allen Cone
Russian riot policemen detain a demonstrator during an opposition rally in central Moscow on Sunday. According to reports, 100 demonstrators were as they called for the resignation of Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev over corruption allegations. Photo by Maxim Shipenkov/EPA
Russian riot policemen detain a demonstrator during an opposition rally in central Moscow on Sunday. According to reports, 100 demonstrators were as they called for the resignation of Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev over corruption allegations. Photo by Maxim Shipenkov/EPA

March 26 (UPI) -- Russians participated in 100 anti-corruption rallies across the nation Sunday, including one near the Kremlin in Moscow that saw the arrest of prominent opposition figure Alexey Navalny.

The protesters were demonstrating against the government of President Vladimir Putin, including recent allegations that Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev has amassed property worth more than $1 billion.

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Medvedev's property was reported to include vineyards, yachts and mansions.

Navalny was detained shortly after the rally began at 2 p.m. local time. He was among about 100 arrested, TASS reported.

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In Russian, he posted on Twitter: "It's amazing. I sit in the police department. Here and nothing formalized yet."

In a later tweet, he wrote: "Many people were detained today. This is understandable -- they are thieves, so protect yourself. But all those who are against corruption, there can be no delay. We are millions."

More than 5,000 registered to attend the Moscow event on the event's Facebook page.

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Dozens were reportedly arrested in the far east city of Vladivostok. Protests also were conducted in St. Petersburg.

Hundreds of riot officers broke up the crowds at the Moscow event, which the Kremlin said Friday was "illegal" and a "provocation."

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Protesters had blocked traffic on Tverskaya street, which leads to the Kremlin's walls.

Participants may face fines up to $333 and detention up to 15 days, a high-ranking police official told TASS on Sunday.

A warning over a loudspeaker urged people to "think of the consequences" and depart.

Sunday marked the country's largest coordinated protests since 2011 and 2012 after a parliamentary election that was decried as fraudulent by opposition leaders.

State-run television hadn't reported on Sunday's protests as of midday.

Navalny, who said he will will run for president in 2018, said Medvez's property was purchased through "bribes from oligarchs, and state bank loans."

Officially, Moscow has dismissed Navalny's claims as a political stunt.

Medvedev's spokeswoman Natalya Timakova told state-run news agency RIA Novosti, "it is pointless to comment on the propagandistic outbursts of a convicted opposition figure, who has already announced he is running some kind of election campaign and fighting against the authorities."

In 2013, he was convicted of siphoning money off a lumber sale. The European Court of Human Rights declared the verdict "prejudicial."

After Russia's Supreme Court declared a retrial in November, Navalny was convicted of embezzlement and handed a five-year suspended sentence in February. That would prevent him from running for president, according to Russian law.

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On Thursday, Denis Voronenkov, a former Russian lawmaker and vocal critic of the Russian government, was shot dead outside a luxury hotel in the Ukrainian capital Kiev.

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