Russia’s anti-corruption protest has gone from mild to intense even as the country’s main opposition leader is arrested over allegations he is the protest’s mastermind.
Thousands of citizens have come together for rallies across the country, demanding the resignation of Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev after he was accused of corruption involvement, reports The Guardian.
Most of these marches have been illegally organized and had no official permission to proceed.
Hundreds of police have been deployed to calm down the protesters, most of who have been jailed all over prisons in the country.
Images shown on TV indicated demonstrators chanting against President Vladimir Putin, some referring to him as a “thief”. These marches have already been branded as the largest ever since the 2011/2012 anti-government demonstrations triggered by fraud-tainted parliamentary election.
Mr. Alexei Navalny is said to have been hurriedly bundled into the police bus but was unable to be driven away for about 7 minutes as the crowd scrambled to set him free. There were also other isolated incidences in which the public clashed with the police and was constantly shouting “Russia will be free”.
Most of Russia’s big cities witnessed hundreds or thousands of protestors, all the way from east port of Vladivostok to the European heartland. Estimates by Moscow police is that 7,000 people were part of the protests but this number is deemed to be much higher. The crowds surged down the length of the capital’s main thoroughfare, Tverskaya. Moscow alone is said to have placed in prison about 500 people.
The opposition leader later on took to his Twitter account in which he said that everything is fine. “I’m at the police station and we’re talking about the [Medvedev] film with the police. Keep up your peaceful walk, the weather is good,” he said.
Some demonstrators holding the rallies close to Vladivostok’s railway terminal were forcefully detained by the police. In one of the cases where force was used, some protesters fell down a small grassy slope as they resisted detention.
Among other cities where the protests were held include Novosibirsk, Saint Petersburg, Tomsk and a number of other cities where arrests have also been made.
What caused the arrests?
The nationwide protests were called for by Alexei Navalny after publishing reports alleging Mr Medvedev was in charge of yachts, mansions and vineyards, of which his official salary couldn’t afford to purchase all that.
The Prime Minister is yet to personally comment on the allegations but his spokeswoman said that the claims are “propagandistic attacks”.