Jim Heintz And Nataliya Vasilyeva · Monday, June 12, 2017, 9:34 am
MOSCOW (AP) — Thousands of anti-government activists challenging President Vladimir Putin’s rule were protesting across Russia 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.Navalny’s wife, Yulia, said on his Twitter feed that he was arrested about a half-hour before the Moscow demonstration was to begin. Police later confirmed the arrest, saying he could get up to 15 days in jail on charges of failing to follow police orders and violating public order.Although city authorities had agreed to a location for the Moscow protest, Navalny called for it to be moved to Tverskaya Street, one of Moscow’s main thoroughfares. He said contractors hired to build a stage at the agreed-upon venue could not do their work after apparently coming under official pressure.
Tverskaya, known in Soviet times as Gorky Street, was closed off to traffic on Monday for an extensive commemoration of the national holiday Russia Day, including people dressed in historical Russian costumes.
Moscow police blocked part of the street with big dump trucks in a bid to block the movement of protesters. Associated Press journalists witnessed at least 50 arrests in the St. Petersburg, Russia’s second-largest city, with Russian media reporting at least 150 arrested in the city. AP reporters also saw at least 10 arrests in Moscow, with reports saying there were up to 100 so far in the capital.