Navalny Gets 30 Days as Most Anti-Putin Protesters Let OutBy and
32 people held by police overnight after Moscow protests
Detentions led to rare criticism of Russia from White House
Most of the hundreds detained at Monday’s anti-Kremlin protests in Moscow were released overnight, while opposition leader Alexey Navalny was sentenced to 30 days in jail for his role in organizing the unsanctioned rally.
Of the more than 800 people detained in Moscow, at least 32 were still being held at 4 a.m. local time, according to OVD-Info, a group that provides legal aid. Navalny, a 41-year-old lawyer whose use of social media has helped mobilize a new generation to protest against Russian corruption, quipped on Twitter that his sentence meant he would miss the July 15 Depeche Mode concert. Another opposition leader, Ilya Yashin, was sentenced to 15 days, according to his Twitter account.
Over 1,000 were detained in cities around the country at Monday’s protests against official corruption, with the largest rallies reported in Moscow and St. Petersburg. The turnout, which like the last major Navalny-backed demonstrations in March was driven in part by people in their teens and twenties, suggested government interference and police pressure aren’t enough to discourage attendance.
Navalny’s sentence was reasonable because his call for protests in the center of the capital were “counterproductive,” Mikhail Fedotov, the head of the Kremlin’s human rights council, said on Ekho Moskvy radio Tuesday.
The number of arrests brought about a rare criticism of the Kremlin from President Donald Trump’s administration, which called on Russia to “immediately release all peaceful protesters,” White House spokesman Sean Spicer said at a news briefing Monday. Despite Trump’s announced intention to improve relations when he took office, several U.S. senators said they’d struck a bipartisan deal to expand sanctions against Russia that will be debated this week.
“These are not calls that we can heed,” Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said in response to a question about the White House’s reaction. “The actions of the authorities were taken in full compliance with the law in regard to those who engaged in provocations.”
Navalny called for the unsanctioned protests in Moscow after complaining that the city government had blocked him from organizing a demonstration in a less-central location. This marks the second jail term this year for Navalny, who says he will run in Russia’s March 2018 election against President Vladimir Putin.