Russian opposition leader Alexey Navalny jailed for 15 days over protests

The 40-year-old Navalny, Russia's most popular, charismatic opposition leader, has been twice convicted on fraud and embezzlement charges that he has dismissed as politically motivated.

Navalny was one of at least 500 people who were detained after the protests. A group that monitors political repression, OVD-Info, published a list early Monday of more than 1,000 people arrested at the Moscow rally.

Navalny's lawyer Olga Mikhailova told reporters that his defence team would appeal the rulings.

He announced he intends to run against Russian President Vladimir Putin in next year's presidential race.

A series of anti-corruption protests swept through Russian Federation on Sunday, leading to the arrest of hundreds of demonstrators, including top Kremlin critic Alexey Navalny.

The rally, with several thousand participants, was the city's largest since the protest movements of 2011-13, which were fuelled by contentious elections for President Vladimir Putin, the parliament and the capital city's mayor.

"The United States strongly condemns the detention of hundreds of peaceful protesters throughout Russian Federation on Sunday", acting spokesman Mark Toner said.

Peskov declined to answer a question about a documentary released on YouTube by Navalny's anti-corruption fund about Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev's alleged involvement in corruption schemes that purportedly made him a billionaire.

"I'm happy that so many people came out [onto the streets] from the east [of the country] to Moscow", Navalny said before his arrest, according to Reuters. "You are the country's best people and Russia's hope for a normal future", he wrote on Twitter.

On Monday, the European Union and the United States criticized the police crackdown and called on Russian authorities to release all those detained.

"Underage participants of the rally in Moscow were promised monetary awards in case of their detention by law enforcement officers", Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov told journalists in a conference call.

"Yesterday's events have shown that quite a large number of voters in Russian Federation support the program of a candidate who stands for fighting corruption".

Navalny was also detained while walking to the central event in Moscow. The European Union urged Russian Federation to release the demonstrators "without delay".

According to Tass, Navalny said in court that he was the organizer of the rally in Moscow, but that it was lawful and consistent with a decision by Russia's Constitutional Court.

Washington/Moscow The US State Department has "strongly condemned" the detention of hundreds of protesters throughout Russian Federation including the country's opposition leader, the media reported.

Demonstrations were also held in Russia's second city of St Petersburg and in a number of provincial cities where protests are rarely seen.



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