Russians Brave Icy Temperatures to Protest Putin and Election

29 January, 2018, 02:40 | Author: Essie Rivera
  • Russian Interior Ministry officers gather outside a building which houses the office of the Anti-corruption Foundation led by opposition leader Alexei Navalny before a rally for a boycott of a March 18 presidential election in Moscow Russia January 28

Activists have staged protests in several Russian cities in support of opposition figure Alexey Navalny, denied the chance to compete in the 2018 presidential election due to a suspended sentence.

"Your own life is at stake", Navalny, who organised the boycott protests, said in a pre-protest video.

Navalny, Russia's best-known opposition leader, was barred from running in the upcoming elections after a 2017 criminal conviction for embezzlement. The police claimed it was because of a bomb threat, though they detained the man who works at Navalny's Moscow coordinator when they raided the office.

Navalny's personal Twitter feed carried a post to his followers saying he had been detained.

Protesters expressed similar sentiments in the second city of Saint Petersburg where around 1,500 people rallied, some chanting "Russia without Putin" and "Putin is a thief". "Come to Tverskaya. You're not coming out for me, but for yourself and your future", he wrote on Twitter moments afterward.

Eight staff members from Navalny's Moscow offices were detained in the raid and were among 185 people arrested across the country, according to independent monitoring group OVD-Info.

"To be honest, I don't support especially Navalny", Pavel Tikhonov, a 29-year-old who works for an global company, tells NPR's Kim.

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A video stream on Sunday morning from the opposition leader's headquarters showed police entering the office.

Days before the police warning, a Moscow district court ruled on January 22 that the foundation Navalny and his allies have used to rent premises and pay salaries at campaign headquarters should be shut down.

He has condemned those charges as trumped up, saying they are created to thwart his political ambitions.

"We want a revolution in people's minds", Grudina said after she was released, adding that she plans to train election observers for the March 18 presidential vote.

One of the protesters, 25-year-old Nastya told RFE/LR: "You can't call choosing between one candidate [Vladimir Putin] an election".

As a police announcement intoned that walkways had to be kept clear, protesters shouted, "Putin's War", "Protest" and "Boycott".

He says the upcoming election will be little more than a coronation of Putin who is expected to win a fourth presidential term and extend his Kremlin stay until 2024. "I try to change our life - our life in Russian Federation, I mean".

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