Alexei Navalny a Russian opposition leader has been sentenced to 15 days in prison by a Moscow court who issued the verdict on Monday against him for resisting police orders on Sunday when he walked to the protest he had organised in the Russian capital.
Navalny, 40, posted a selfie on Twitter from the courtroom, saying: “A time will come when we’ll put them on trial too – and that time it will be fair.” “Even the slightest illusion of fair justice is absent here,” Navalny said on Monday at the defendant’s bench, complaining about the judge striking down one motion after another.
“Yesterday’s events have shown that quite a large number of voters in Russia support the program of a candidate who stands for fighting corruption. These people demand political representation – and I strive to be their political representative.” Tens of thousands of protesters took to the streets across Russia on Sunday in the biggest show of defiance since the 2011-2012 anti-government protests.
“The Kremlin respects people’s civic stance and their right to voice their position,” said Putin spokesman Dmitry Peskov.
Asked about the Kremlin’s reaction to the wide geography of the protests, something that has not been seen at least since 2012, Peskov said “the Kremlin is quite sober about the scale of yesterday’s protests, and are not inclined to diminish them or push them out of proportion”.
Putin “constantly talks to people” and is well-briefed on the sentiment in the country, Peskov insisted.
Peskov also claimed that underage protesters in Moscow were promised cash if they were arrested.
The Council of Europe said the detentions of the protesters raised concerns about freedom of expression and assembly.
Russian authorities should release all those detained, Secretary General Thorbjorn Jagland said.
The European Union and the United States also condemned the detentions.
German government spokesman Steffen Seibert said freedom of assembly, which is “of great importance to democracy,” was being tested in Russia.
The resignation of Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev was the main demand of Sunday’s protests that were called for by Navalny after he published a detailed report this month accusing him of controlling a property empire through a shadowy network of non-profit organisations.
Medvedev, who has so far made no comments on the claims, is accused of amassing a private collection of mansions, yachts and vineyards. The alleged luxuries include a house for raising ducks, thus many placards in the protests showed mocking images of a yellow toy duck.
“Navalny’s message of anti-corruption has really struck a chord with Russians,” said Challands. “And going after Dmitry Medvedev, the prime minister, is pretty canny because – although Putin at the top of the tree is fairly unassailable – Dmitry Medvedev is a different political animal. He is much more vulnerable, much less popular, and putting pressure on him puts pressure on Vladimir Putin.”