Russian police detain Putin critic Navalny, scores of protesters held


Although authorities had agreed to a location for the Moscow protest, Mr Navalny called for it to be moved to Tverskaya Street, one of the city's main thoroughfares.

Navalny, who has announced his intention to run for president next year against Putin, was detained outside his home in Moscow shortly before demonstrators took to the streets there, as well as in St. Petersburg and other cities.

Russian opposition politician Alexei Navalny was jailed for 30 days, and over 1,500 of his supporters were arrested after demonstrations across the nation on Monday against government corruption.

Russian website OVD Info, which operates a hotline and tracks detentions at protest events, said about 10 people were detained ahead of the start of the rally in Moscow at 2pm (1200GMT).

On that day, thousands of mostly young Russians took to the streets in 99 cities across the country in authorized and unauthorized rallies protesting corruption.

The activist's spokeswoman also confirmed that electricity had been cut at his office - temporarily disrupting an online feed of nationwide demonstrations.

The latest confrontation between Navalny and the Kremlin began March 2, when the opposition leader released a video depicting Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev as the crooked beneficiary of palaces, yachts, vineyards, and other luxuries paid for by some of Russia's richest tycoons and disguised as charity holdings.

Yulia, the wife of Alexei Navalny, said Monday that he was arrested outside his home en route to the centerpiece demonstration on the Tverskaya Street.

It was hard to ascertain the scale of the protests because riot police officers kept groups of protesters divided around Pushkin Square, which was also the site of some of the historical reenactments and a public concert.

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There was no immediate comment from police on why Navalny had been arrested or where he was taken.

Navalny - who sent all this in motion - was whisked through his court hearing on Monday and he's been handed a sentence of 30 days.

With cries of "Putin out" and "Russia without thieves", mass protests took place in cities across Russian Federation on Monday - a day that was supposed to celebrate the nation.

Around 100 protesters were detained near central Moscow's Pushkin Square, witnesses told Reuters, as police uesd pepper spray.

Another protester Yevgeny, 19, said he had been expelled from university after participating in a previous rally. Navalny served a 15-day jail term after the protest in March. Some Russian parliament members expressed support for a ban against minors attending street rallies.

However, opinion polls suggest he would stand little chance of beating Mr Putin, who continues to enjoy favourable ratings.

The popular anger has spread beyond Medvedev, with many demonstrators chanting "Putin is a thief" within earshot of the City Hall that later dismissed the protests as an "overt provocation". Again, the protests were unsanctioned by police but Navalny claimed the charges were politically motivated.

In a call for people to join him on Monday, Mr Navalny wrote: "I want changes". "Russia is an authoritarian regime, and I want to change it into a Democracy", he said.