US Condemns Russia's Crackdown On Protesters

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Over 200 people were detained Monday by police at opposition protests called by Kremlin critic Alexei Navalny, said a Russian NGO tracking arrests.

Monday's protests against President Vladimir Putin were held in more than a hundred cities and towns across Russia, the patriotic Russia Day holiday, but Navalny was arrested at his home in Moscow before he could join them.

"And the Kremlin, I think, has been taken back by the scale of these protests and has reacted both times by detaining hundreds of protests as a lot of them in Moscow and St. Petersburg", Magnay continued as she chronicled Navalny's run-ins with Russian authorities.

Riot police in central Moscow were picking protesters out of the crowd at random, a BBC correspondent at the demonstration has said.

A prominent Russian opposition figure has been sentenced to 15 days in jail in connection with an unsanctioned protest demonstration in Moscow.

The protest Monday was part of a day of demonstrations throughout Russian Federation spearheaded by Alexei Navalny, the anti-corruption campaigner who has emerged as Russia's most prominent opposition figure and who has announced he intends to run for president next year. "There were too many people and I was about to go down into the metro", he told AFP in a corridor at Moscow's Tverskoi district court awaiting a hearing on his case.

The Moscow authorities had approved a rally, organized by the opposition, for June 12 from 38 Mashy Poryvayevoy Street to 9 Sakharov Avenue.

"It (is) clear that the makeup (of the protest) has changed in favour of the youth", said Ekaterina Schulmann of the Russian Academy of National Economy and Public Administration. The protagonists of these new protests are young people and students, often underage.

Yesterday, June 12, was "Russia Day", a holiday marking the country's independence from the USSR.

As a result there were surreal scenes with demonstrators shouting slogans as people in period outfits held sword fights. "The White House this afternoon called on the Russian government to release demonstrators arrested earlier today in anti-corruption protests across Russia", announced Tapper.

Then a riot police officer hit him with a truncheon and told him to "shut up", he said.

The protest gatherings in cities from Far East Pacific ports to St. Petersburg were spearheaded by Alexei Navalny, the anti-corruption campaigner who has become the Kremlin's most visible opponent. Omsk, also in Siberia, saw at least 1,500 gather on the banks of the Irtysh River, with about 2,000 attending a demonstration in Khabarovsk near the Chinese border, according to Navalny's Twitter account.

A video likening him to Adolf Hitler has racked up over 2 million views on You Tube, as has a music video released ahead of Monday's protests by pop singer Alisa Voks who urged young fans to "stay out of politics" and do their homework instead.

"Detaining peaceful protesters and journalists is an affront to core democratic values", he continued.

"The Russian people deserve a government that supports an open marketplace of ideas", White House spokesman Sean Spicer said.

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