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Cotton: Putin's Jailing of Opposition Leader Shows He Fears His Own People

Cotton: Putin's Jailing of Opposition Leader Shows He Fears His Own People

Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny was arrested Sunday in Moscow after calling for protests around the country, which raged on around Russia. "Thanks to all those who were not afraid to fight for their rights".

Last month Mr Navalny was barred from running in the election by Russia's central election commission because of a suspended prison sentence for fraud, but thousands still turned out to endorse him for the presidency during demonstrations across the country.

Russian police raided Navalny's Moscow office Sunday morning, according to the Associated Press.

The opposition leader urged Muscovites not to give up.

"You are not going there for me, it's for you and your future". Several hundred stood there, chanting, "Putin is a thief" and "Russia without Putin". This time, less than two dozen were detained in Moscow as police largely left protesters untouched. One man who was dressed in a Putin mask and wearing a crown walked around the crowd with a bucket asking for "taxes" and telling people he would "take everything there was".

Eventually, part of the Moscow crowd - a few hundred people - began marching in a column toward the Kremlin, chanting "Down with the tsar". Riot police in were out in force in central Moscow Sunday. Police also detained several members of Navalny's team.

Overall, around 40 people were detained across the country, said OVD-Info, an independent group which monitors crackdowns on demonstrations. Since two rallies in March and June 2017 attracted tens of thousands of people in up to 100 cities across Russian Federation, enthusiasm has waned somewhat.

Navalny himself served three jail sentences of 15 days, 25 days and 20 days for organising unauthorised protests past year.

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NPR's Kim says state television devoted little coverage to Sunday's protests. "Because that's the only path open to us in Russian Federation, where we're kept out of elections and the media and you can't win in court".

A clip posted on YouTube shows Alexei Navalny being grabbed by policemen, who brandish their batons and take one protester by the throat as they shove the opposition leader into a waiting police wagon.

"They are, like, fake", Ruslan Borodinov, a 25-year-old butcher at the Moscow protest said of the other candidates.

"I want change", Andrei Petrov, 20, told AFP in the former imperial capital.

His lawyer, Olga Michailova, said Navalny, who for years led a protest movement against high-level corruption, would have to remain in contact with the authorities, the Tass news agency reported without giving further details.

The process in which we are called to participate is not a real election.

Footage taken by Mr Navalny's organisation showed nearly a dozen police officers arriving at his Moscow office on Sunday morning and breaking down the door, before entering the studio and interrupting a live broadcast.

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