Russia’s Navalny Jailed And Fined Over Protests; U.S., EU Condemn Mass Detentions


A Russian court has ordered opposition leader and anticorruption activist Aleksei Navalny to be jailed for 15 days for disobeying police, one day after he was arrested near the site of a demonstration in central Moscow.

The March 27 ruling comes after an earlier decision by the court to fine Navalny 20,000 rubles ($350) for organizing what the authorities say was an illegal protest in the Russian capital on March 26.

Navalny was detained on that date as he made his way to an anticorruption demonstration that he had called on people to attend in Moscow.

The government says the protest was illegal because city authorities had not granted permission for a march and rally in the center of the city, and that it led to violations of public order. Navalny disputes that, saying that it was legal.

Police also detained hundreds of other demonstrators at anticorruption protests that were attended by thousands of people in dozens of cities nationwide in the largest such rallies since 2012.

A day after the anticorruption protests, the Kremlin lashed out.

Russian President Vladimir Putin’s spokesman, Dmitry Peskov, said on March 27 that many of the protests the previous day were illegal and that organizers had “provoked” participants into “illegal activity.”

Peskov also claimed that children had been promised “rewards” for taking part. The same day, Russia’s Investigative Committee opened a probe into possible payments to demonstrators — “not only youths, but to other participants as well.”

Peskov pointed out that the authorities in Moscow declined to give Navalny permission to hold a march and rally at a central location and proposed alternate sites on the outskirts of the city.

Navalny contends that there were no grounds for the government to refuse permission, and that the alternate sites were offered later than is required by law.

A total of tens of thousands of people took part in the demonstrations on March 26, and a group called OVD-Info says more than 1,000 were detained in Moscow alone.

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