Russia: Opposition Leader Navalny Jailed After Anti-Corruption Protests

Published: 27 March 2017

By Karina Shedrofsky

A court in Moscow sentenced on Monday Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny to 15 days in prison and fined him 20,000 roubles (US$ 350) a day after he was arrested during anti-government protests that took place throughout the country.

Navalny was jailed for disobeying the police and fined for organizing the unsanctioned protests against the alleged corruption in President Vladimir Putin’s government.

Hundreds were arrested during the demonstrations held in more than 80 towns and cities across Russia. At least 8,000 people had gathered in Moscow and more than 10,000 in St. Petersburg, making it one of the largest protests in the country since the anti-Kremlin demonstrations in 2011 and 2012, according to Moscow Times.

Navalny — who hopes to run against Putin in next year’s presidential election — and his anti-corruption foundation orchestrated the rallies after releasing an investigation earlier this month on the alleged corruption of Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev, titled "Don’t Call Him Dimon."

Medvedev, the investigation claims, "owns real estate around the country, controls giant lots of land in the most elite districts, enjoys yachts and apartments in pre-revolutionary mansions, and receives profit from the agricultural companies and vineyards both in Russia and abroad."

Authorities issued warnings ahead of the rallies in an attempt to keep people away. On Friday, senior Russian police official Alexander Gorovoi said they would "bear no responsibility for any possible negative consequences" for those who decided to protest, according to The Washington Post

On Thursday, Moscow’s police department posted a statement warning that the protests were "illegal."

But tens of thousands ignored the warning and took to the streets to call for the resignation of Medvedev, whose large fortune far exceeds his official salary, according to NPR.

Police responded with barricades, tear gas and mass arrests, with more than 700 demonstrators detained in central Moscow alone, The Washington Post reported. 

Authorities also arrested 17 people who work at Navalny's Anti-Corruption Foundation, which organized a livestream of all the rallies on YouTube, a director of the fund and Navalny's press secretary told Reuters

Leonid Volkov, manager of Navalny’s election campaign and livestream host, is allegedly being accused of extremism for organizing an unsanctioned online broadcast, according to the foundation’s press release

Putin is expected to run for what would be his fourth term in 2018, and Navalny has declared his intention to run against him despite a criminal conviction in February on corruption charges that made him unqualified to compete, according to the New York Times