Moscow protest location changed, raising fear of arrests

The arrests began, Mary Louise says, after the crowd began chanting - something the authorities had warned them not to do.

Back then, eight lone protesters dared to go on Moscow's Red Square to protest the invasion.

The protests kicked off shortly afterwards.

Reuters witnesses saw police detain a small number of protesters as they exited a metro station near the venue.

A wave of anti-government protests swept across Russian Federation on Monday, starting in the Pacific port city of Vladivostok and rolling east, across half-a-dozen time zones.

OVD-Info further reported that 25 people were detained in Sochi and another 10 each in Vladivostok and Norilsk.

Authorities have detained Russian opposition politician Alexei Navalny and almost 1000 of his supporters as they mounted demonstrations across the nation against government corruption.

Hundreds were arrested, including opposition leader Alexei Navalny, who was seized outside his Moscow residence while on his way to an unsanctioned rally in the city center.

Navalny, a Kremlin foe who is seeking to run for president next year, is looking to build on momentum picked up during nationwide protests in March, which drew unexpectedly large crowds and ended with more than 1,000 people detained in Moscow alone.

The center of the Moscow protest is at Pushkin Square - and while NPR's Mary Louise Kelly says the crowd there is huge, she adds that it's also hard to ascertain how many people are there for Navalny's cause, and how many for the national holiday.

Moscow authorities had initially authorised a venue for the protest away from the city centre.

Moscow's prosecutor's office said: "We are warning that any attempts to hold an unsanctioned event in Moscow will be a direct violation of the law" and that authorities would take all necessary measures to prevent provocations threatening public security.




The protest was called over government plans to demolish Soviet-era apartment blocks in the city.

But the 41-year-old lawyer turned political street campaigner hopes anger over corruption may boost his support. It's a reference to a report by Navalny's Anti-Corruption Foundation from last fall, which said that a vacation estate frequented by Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev has a special house just for ducks. Navalny says the charges against him are politically motivated.

Navalny, who had a green liquid thrown in his face in April, robbing him of some of his sight, said hundreds of people had attended demonstrations in Russia's Far East on Monday morning.

Navalny has run electoral campaigns before, harnessing popular discontent to finish second in the Moscow mayoral poll in 2013.

"I want changes", wrote Navalny.

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

Permission was granted for demonstrations in 169 locations across the country, some of which were broadcast live on the Navalny Live YouTube channel.

More than 200 towns and cities were signed up for protest rallies to mark the Russia Day public holiday according to Navalny's social media.

Navalny, Russia's most prominent opposition figure, has been arrested numerous times for a variety of accused crimes. He focuses on corruption issues and has attracted a wide following through savvy use of internet video.

Navalny has announced his candidacy for the presidential election in 2018.

Since rising to prominence with his fiery speeches protesting Putin's third term in power in 2012, Navalny has cemented his place as Russia's top opposition leader.

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