Kremlin critic Navalny gets 15 days for protest

Most of the marches were organised without official permission.

The alleged luxuries include a house for raising ducks, thus many placards in the protests showed mocking images of a yellow toy duck.

"The elections will be more like a plebiscite of confidence in Putin", said Andrei Kolesnikov, a senior associate at the Carnegie Moscow Center, who suggested that anything more than 60 percent would be pushing the upper limits of Putin's real electoral rating.

"We wanted the leaders to see that we're here", Alexei said.

The police crackdown stopped "the exercise of basic freedoms of expression, association and peaceful assembly - which are fundamental rights enshrined in the Russian constitution", the EU's said on Monday.

"We call on the Russian authorities to abide fully by the worldwide commitments it has made, including in the Council of uphold these rights and to release without delay the peaceful demonstrators that have been detained". The tweet echoed State Department Spokesman Mark Toner's statement Sunday which "strongly condemned" Russia's arrest.

What are the protests about?

Navalny called for the demonstrations after publishing a detailed report earlier this month accusing the Russian prime minister of controlling a property empire through a shadowy network of non-profit organizations. People in 100 Russian cities have indicated they will turn out Sunday, he said, and more than 10 million people have watched the YouTube video about Medvedev. But Navalny and his supporters hope to channel public discontent over corruption to get more support.

He moved on to opposing the ruling party, United Russia, calling it the "party of crooks and thieves".

Analysts said the President's opponents could be preparing for a new wave of protests ahead of the next presidential election next March.

He has said he will run for the presidency in 2018, but a court has convicted him of embezzlement, which would bar him.

What has the Kremlin said?

The United States and the European Union voiced deep concern about the detentions, with the State Department describing them as an "affront to democracy". Monday morning's bulletins were similarly blank.

Mr Navalny urged the judge at his hearing to call Mr Medvedev for questioning as the "main organiser of the protests" triggered by the allegations, according to his Twitter account.

When asked how he spent Sunday, the prime minister said simply on Instagram: "Had a good day, I went skiing", and posted a smiley face.

The Kremlin has long sought to cast the opposition as a phenomenon of a privileged Westernized urban elite out of sync with broader layers of the population in Russia's far-flung regions.

Pro-Kremlin newspapers also ignored the protests. At times, authorities have experimented with allowing him to take part in politics, and he stood for mayor of Moscow in 2013, winning 27% of votes. Business daily Vedomosti reported a high level of dissatisfaction with the authorities, saying that the young generation had become politicised.

"Putin most likely wanted to discredit Secretary Clinton because he has publicly blamed her since 2011 for inciting mass protests against his regime in late 2011 and early 2012", the report read, "and because he holds a grudge for comments he nearly certainly saw as disparaging him".


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