Thousands of Russian citizens took to the streets Monday to express discontent with corruption in Vladimir Putin’s authoritarian regime, the Associated Press reports.
The protests were organized in part by Alexei Navalny, leader of the opposition party to Putin. The size of the anti-corruption rally indicated a newfound contempt toward Putin among Russians. The Kremlin has long felt Putin dissenters were fewer in number.
Opposition leader Navalny was detained on his way to the Moscow rally by Russian police. The anti-corruption campaigner was one of hundreds of arrests in across Russia that day.
Already 400 arrests in Moscow protests; journalists among those kettled as things take a predictably ugly turn pic.twitter.com/ZHpXfI4Ltu
— Oliver Carroll (@olliecarroll) June 12, 2017
Navalny described the protests, exclaiming, “This is not our decision. This is the Kremlin’s decision.”
Other protests occurred throughout major cities in Russia, ranging from a few hundred to over 2,000 participants in some areas. In St. Petersburg, one Associated Press reporter noted about 500 Russian protesters forced into police buses by government agents.
Vladimir Putin is set to run for re-election in 2018. Alexei Navalny will likely be Putin’s most formidable challenger. In March, Navalny was jailed for two weeks following similar anti-corruption charges. In April, he sustained an eye injury after an attacker flung anti-septic liquid onto his face.
The opposition leader is set to face another 15-day stint in prison for disobeying police officers. However, it does not appear that Putin has heard the last of Navalny and his growing opposition movement.