France Concerned by Russian Demonstration Arrests

On Monday, Moscow rejected the calls to release the remaining detainees.

Anti-corruption campaigner Alexei Navalny has cemented his status as leader of Russia's opposition movement by organising the largest unauthorised protest in recent years against President Vladimir Putin's rule.

Mr Navalny, 40, tweeted from the building: "Hello everyone from Tversky Court". He posted a selfie on Twitter from there, saying: "A time will come when we'll put them on trial too - and that time it will be fair".

"The Kremlin respects people's civic stance and their right to voice their position", said Putin spokesman Dmitry Peskov.

According to police, Navalny was detained during the protest as he refused to leave the scene and offered resistance to police. The rallies also took place in Saint Petersburg, Voronezh, Vladivostok, Khabarovsk, as well as other cities.

But Navalny saw little of the protest he organized. Most of the marches were organised without official permission.

In July 2016, as Western sanctions over Russia's role in the Ukraine crisis and low oil prices hit average Russians hard, Navalny revealed that deputy prime minister Igor Shuvalov was sending his pet corgis on private jets to dog shows around Europe.

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Correspondents say the marches appear to be the biggest since anti-government demonstrations in 2011 and 2012.

"We wanted the leaders to see that we're here", Alexei said.

"Freedoms of protest, meeting, association and expression are fundamental freedoms guaranteed by the Russian constitution and the worldwide commitments which Russia has subscribed to".

It also called on Russian Federation "to abide fully by its global commitments to uphold those rights and to release without delay the peaceful demonstrators that have been detained".

"This situation causes deep concern in France", a foreign ministry spokesman said in a statement.

What are the protests about?

The gathering was part of 99 other protests across Russia sparked by a report from Navalny detailing Russian Prime Minister Dmitri Medvedev's private assets, which are worth millions of dollars.

While campaigning in the Siberian city of Barnaul last week, an assailant doused Navalny's face with a bright green antiseptic liquid. In Russia, opposition leader Boris Nemtsov was gunned down in 2015 outside the walls of the Kremlin, one of a list of prominent critics who died suddenly.

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He moved on to opposing the ruling party, United Russia, calling it the "party of crooks and thieves". "They get their information online, and the Internet is comparatively free", she said.

What has the Kremlin said?

He said the Kremlin had no problem with people expressing their opinions at protest meetings, but said the timing and location of such events had to be agreed with the authorities in advance, something which he said had not been done in large part on Sunday. Monday morning's bulletins were similarly blank.

Medvedev's spokeswoman called the allegations against him "propaganda attacks unworthy of detailed comment".

The Kremlin has dismissed the opposition as Westernised urban elite disconnected from the issues faced by poor Russians. Peskov stressed that law enforcement officials conducted themselves lawfully and professionally in their response to Sunday's unsanctioned rallies.

Sunday's protests included demonstrations in the areas that typically produce a high vote for President Vladimir Putin, from the western city of Chita in Siberia to southern Dagestan's capital, Makhachkala.

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