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19 Junio 2017, 03:35 | Crisanna Felipe
Pavel Golovkin AP Images
MOSCOW-Thousands of anti-government activists challenging President Vladimir Putin's rule were protesting across Russian Federation on Monday, with police arresting main opposition leader Alexei Navalny outside his Moscow home before he could reach the main demonstration and scores of others. According to the New York Times, numerous demonstrators were teenagers who've never known a Russian Federation that hasn't been government by Vladimir Putin.
The United States condemned the arrests, a rare criticism of human rights violations and the Kremlin from Donald Trump's administration.
The White House says the USA condemns the Russian crackdown on peaceful protesters, and has called for the release of all those detained.
Navalny himself never reached the protest.
The protesters tried not to unfold their posters before they passed control at the metal detector gates and the police cordon, trying to first see what was happening in other areas because the barriers, police vans and rows of OMON forces were obstructing their view.
"I'm angry, my family is angry, but they're not going to come to this because they're scared", said Fomenko, wearing jean shorts, closely cropped hair and a tattoo with a dragon on his left leg. While they did report on the arrest of Navalny, they remained silent on the protests in the streets.
Navalny, who says he will run against Putin for president in 2018, has attracted a major following online through his exposés of official graft, using his own YouTube channel to circumvent official state media from which he is effectively barred. He faces up to 30 days in administrative custody for breaking rules on organizing demonstrations, his lawyer said.
He was jailed for 15 days after the March protests.
After the detentions, the protest appeared to be breaking up, but some demonstrators remained. 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. One protest in Vladimir, located 150 miles west of Moscow, drew a crowd that didn't look like much, but it still was a triumph.
Another protester Yevgeny, 19, said he had been expelled from university after participating in a previous rally. "Our government shouts that enemies are everywhere and is becoming closed in on itself", he said. "What kind of country do we live in when I can't put a Russian flag on my shoulder?" "Pressure on young people has increased".
A young demonstrator is apprehended by riot police during a demonstration in downtown Moscow Monday. Video footage of rallies showed Russians calling for a "Russia without Putin" and yelling "Putin is a thief!", while also throwing in a "Happy Russia Day!" in honor of the ongoing national holiday.
A photo of Navalny being bundled into a police auto was posted on Twitter by his wife Yulia, who said the protests were going ahead nonetheless.
For that reason, he said he was switching the venue to Tverskaya Street, Moscow's main avenue near the Kremlin.
As the journalist notes, the action in Moscow was held in another place, but the organizers did not manage to rent sound equipment for the rally there, and so they "seized" the celebration of Day of Russia.*** "People came, began to unfurl banners, there were many anti-Putin slogans. We left the Pushkinskaya metro station and after five minutes the riot police ran up to us and dragged us to the police bus, which after a few minutes was already crowded with people", the 18-year-old told CNN via text message. "There is an unauthorized protest here!"
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