News / Europe

Russian Opposition Leaders Detained at Anti-Putin Rally

Russian opposition leader Sergei Udaltsov waves to the media before entering the Russian Investigative Committee's office in Moscow, Russia, Friday, Dec. 14, 2012.Russian opposition leader Sergei Udaltsov waves to the media before entering the Russian Investigative Committee's office in Moscow, Russia, Friday, Dec. 14, 2012.
x
Russian opposition leader Sergei Udaltsov waves to the media before entering the Russian Investigative Committee's office in Moscow, Russia, Friday, Dec. 14, 2012.
Russian opposition leader Sergei Udaltsov waves to the media before entering the Russian Investigative Committee's office in Moscow, Russia, Friday, Dec. 14, 2012.
Thousands of demonstrators have gathered in central Moscow to protest Russian President Vladimir Putin. At least 30 people, including prominent opposition leaders, have been arrested.

As a police helicopter flew above, protesters rallied Saturday in front of Russia’s headquarters for the Federal Security Service, formerly known as the KGB. The demonstration was not sanctioned by Moscow authorities and those who participated or organized the rally faced large fines and arrest. Officials say the fines are meant to protect the security of the average Russian.

Opposition leader Sergei Udaltsov, who was arrested during the event, says it is absurd that people can not express their opinions in Russia.

He says we wanted to hold a peaceful freedom march today within the framework of the law. But he goes on to say that the authorities banned the march for no reason whatsoever. He says the government is afraid of its citizens.

Russians began protesting in December 2011 in the largest demonstrations since the collapse of the Soviet Union. The rallies began after ruling party United Russia won the country’s parliamentary elections.
Demonstrators claim the party won by ballot stuffing and vote rigging, charges it denies.

Since then, demonstrators have continued to rally against Russian President Vladimir Putin’s unprecedented third term. Protesters say he runs the country through a tightly controlled political system and corruption. The Kremlin denies the accusations.

Since Putin has been in office, Russia has seen a major crackdown on dissent.  Anti-corruption blogger Alexei Navalny, a major organizer of the anti-Kremlin protests who was also arrested Saturday, had been previously charged with fraud for allegedly stealing millions of dollars in timber and now faces another investigation for fraud. He says the charges against him are politically motivated. Moscow denies the claim.  Navalny faces up to 10 years in prison.

Additionally, the fines for participating in and organizing unsanctioned demonstrations against the Kremlin have increased more than 150-fold, that is more than the average annual salary of a Russian.

Tamara, a Muscovite in her 20s who did not want to use her last name, said she almost did not come to the rally because she was afraid of the fines.

She says I think a lot of people did not show up because they are afraid of the fines. I am afraid too it would take me months of work to pay the fine off.

In addition to Udaltsov and Navalny, other prominent opposition leaders were detained Saturday including  Ilya Yashin and TV personality Ksenia Sobchak.

Despite this, opposition leaders say they will continue to protest.

You May Like

Turkey: No Ransom Paid for Release of Hostages Held by IS Militants

President Erdogan hails release of hostages as diplomatic success but declines to be drawn on whether their release freed Ankara's hand to take more active stance against insurgents More

Audio Sierra Leone Ends Ebola Lockdown

Health ministry says it has reached 75 percent of its target of visiting 1.5 million homes to locate infected, educate population about virus More

US Pivot to Asia Demands Delicate Balancing Act

As tumult in Middle East distracts Obama administration, efforts to shift American focus eastward appear threatened More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Natural Gas Export Plan Divides Maryland Towni
X
Deborah Block
September 21, 2014 2:12 PM
A U.S. power company that has been importing natural gas now wants to export it. If approved, its plant in Lusby, Maryland, would likely be the first terminal on the United States East Coast to export liquefied natural gas from American pipelines. While some residents welcome the move because it will create jobs, others oppose it, saying the expansion could be a safety and environmental hazard. VOA’s Deborah Block examines the controversy.
Video

Video Natural Gas Export Plan Divides Maryland Town

A U.S. power company that has been importing natural gas now wants to export it. If approved, its plant in Lusby, Maryland, would likely be the first terminal on the United States East Coast to export liquefied natural gas from American pipelines. While some residents welcome the move because it will create jobs, others oppose it, saying the expansion could be a safety and environmental hazard. VOA’s Deborah Block examines the controversy.
Video

Video Difficult Tactical Battle Ahead Against IS Militants in Syria

The U.S. president has ordered the military to intensify its fight against the Islamic State, including in Syria. But how does the military conduct air strikes in a country that is not a U.S. ally? VOA correspondent Carla Babb reports from the Pentagon.
Video

Video Iran, World Powers Seek Progress in Nuclear Talks

Iran and the five permanent members of the U.N. Security Council plus Germany, known as the P5 + 1, have started a new round of talks on Iran's nuclear program. VOA State Department correspondent Pam Dockins reports that as the negotiations take place in New York, a U.S. envoy is questioning Iran's commitment to peaceful nuclear activity.
Video

Video Alibaba Shares Soar in First Day of Trading

China's biggest online retailer hit the market Friday -- with its share price soaring on the New York Stock Exchange. The shares were priced at $68, but trading stalled at the opening, as sellers held onto their shares, waiting for buyers to bid up the price. More on the world's biggest initial public offering from VOA’s Bernard Shusman in New York.
Video

Video Obama Goes to UN With Islamic State, Ebola on Agenda

President Obama goes to the United Nations General Assembly to rally nations to support a coalition against Islamic State militants in Iraq and Syria. He also will look for nations to back his plan to fight the Ebola virus in West Africa. As VOA White House correspondent Luis Ramirez reports, Obama’s efforts reflect new moves by the U.S. administration to take a leading role in addressing world crises.
Video

Video Migrants Caught in No-Man's Land Called Calais

The deaths of hundreds of migrants in the Mediterranean this week has only recast the spotlight on the perils of reaching Europe. And for those forunate enough to reach a place like Calais, France, only find that their problems aren't over. Lisa Bryant has the story.
Video

Video Westgate Siege Anniversary Brings Back Painful Memories

One year after it happened, the survivors of the terror attack on Nairobi's Westgate Shopping Mall still cannot shake the images of that tragic incident. For VOA, Mohammed Yusuf tells the story of victims still waiting for the answer to the question 'how could this happen?'
Video

Video Militant Assault in Syria Displaces Thousands of Kurds

A major assault by Islamic State militants on Kurds in Syria has sent a wave of new refugees to the Turkish border, where they were stopped by Turkish border security. Turkey is already hosting about 700,000 Syrian refugees who fled the civil war between the government and the opposition. But the government in Ankara has a history of strained relations with Turkey's Kurdish minority. Zlatica Hoke reports Turkey is asking for international help.
Video

Video Whaling Summit Votes to Uphold Ban on Japan Whale Hunt

The International Whaling Commission, meeting in Slovenia, has voted to uphold a court ruling banning Japan from hunting whales in the Antarctic Ocean. Conservationists hailed the ruling as a victory, but Tokyo says it will submit revised plans for a whale hunt in 2015. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video A Dinosaur Fit for Land and Water

Residents and tourists in Washington D.C. can now examine a life-size replica of an unusual dinosaur that lived almost a hundred million years ago in northern Africa. Scientists say studying the behemoth named Spinosaurus helps them better understand how some prehistoric animals adapted to life on land and in water. The Spinosaurus replica is on display at the National Geographic museum. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Iraqi Kurdistan Church Helps Christian Children Cope find shelter in churches in the Kurdish capital, Irbil

In the past six weeks, tens of thousands of Iraqi Christians have been forced to flee their homes by Islamic State militants and find shelter in churches in the Kurdish capital, Irbil. Despite U.S. airstrikes in the region, the prospect of people returning home is still very low and concerns are starting to grow over the impact this is having on the displaced youth. Sebastian Meyer reports from Irbil on how one church is coping.


Carnage and mayhem are part of daily life in northern Nigeria, the result of a terror campaign by the Islamist group Boko Haram. Fears are growing that Nigeria’s government may not know how to counter it, and may be making things worse. More

AppleAndroid