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Russian Federation protests: Hundreds detained at opposition rallies

Russian Federation protests: Hundreds detained at opposition rallies

BBC correspondent Sarah Rainsford, who was also present, said riot police in the capital were picking out protesters at random. 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.

In Vladivostok, where hundreds of people assembled for a protest, demonstrator Alexei Borenko said after eluding police attempts to detain him, that he was "here first of all because of the corruption in Russian Federation which is becoming incredibly big in Russian Federation".

Baton-wielding riot police broke up Monday's protests and detained hundreds of demonstrators in Moscow and other Russian cities.

The protests, which involved cities from far-eastern Vladivostok to the Black Sea resort of Sochi and Norilsk beyond the Arctic Circle, follow a previous unsanctioned rally called by Navalny on March 26 that provoked a similar police reaction. The United States condemned the arrests, a rare criticism of human rights violations and the Kremlin from Donald Trump's administration.

He himself never made it to the protest however as police awaited him in the stairwell of his building and hauled him off to a police station before the rally had even begun.

In a post leading up to the demonstrations, Navalny criticized the pervasive corruption among Russia's leaders. There were a lot of students among the protesters, including those from top Russian universities.

Navalny's wife, Yulia, said her husband was detained as he tried to leave their home.

The competing versions of one day in Vladimir Putin's Russia highlight the battle being fought between state TV, where most Russians get their news, and the Internet, which Putin critic Navalny is using to try to unseat the veteran Russian leader.

A video likening him to Adolf Hitler has racked up over 2 million views on You Tube, as has a music video released ahead of Monday's protests by pop singer Alisa Voks who urged young fans to "stay out of politics" and do their homework instead. "It's been unchanged for the last 17 years".

"Our government shouts that enemies are everywhere and is becoming closed in on itself", he said.

Young people are especially responsive to Navalny's message - "Teenagers, essentially", says Maynes. Navalny has brought a new generation to the streets through his embrace of YouTube.

Ostrovsky says that while the Kremlin insists that they "control the rules and Navalny is saying, 'no you don't any longer - look at these young people in the streets'".

Tverskaya Street was closed to traffic for a holiday historical display.

Although city authorities had agreed to a location for the Moscow protest, Navalny called for it to be moved to one of Moscow's main thoroughfares.

They "are forbidding any contractors from getting us a stage and sound", he wrote on his blog Sunday.

The protest ended up coinciding with City Hall Russia Day events such as the reenactment of various eras in Russian history, from World War I trenches to a Renaissance fair and sword fighting.

As a result there were surreal scenes with demonstrators shouting slogans as people in period outfits held sword fights.