World News
Russia: Mass detentions after Putin critic Navalny jailed

Nearly 1,400 people were detained in Russia during Tuesday’s protests in support of jailed opposition leader Alexei Navalny, rights monitors say.

In Moscow, riot police were filmed beating demonstrators with batons.

Mr Navalny, 44, was earlier jailed for three-and-a-half years for violating the conditions of a suspended sentence. He says the case was fabricated.

He returned to Russia in January after being treated in Germany for a near-fatal nerve agent attack last August.

Mr Navalny says Russian President Vladimir Putin ordered the attack with the Novichok agent, describing him as a “poisoner”. The Kremlin denies the allegation.

The EU, the US and the UK have all condemned Tuesday’s court verdict, demanding the opposition leader be immediately released. He has already served time under house arrest and his lawyer says he faces two years and eight months in prison.

What happened during Tuesday’s protests?

Hundreds of protesters gathered in central Moscow after the court’s decision.

Soon there were violent scenes in the capital, with video on social media showing police beating and arresting those who came out to support Mr Navalny. One journalist was seen being hit on the head with a baton by a police officer.

Russia’s OVD-Info human rights monitors said 1,116 people were detained on Tuesday in Moscow, and 246 in St Petersburg, the country’s second-largest city.

Another 15 people were held in smaller Russian cities.

The authorities have not commented on the reported numbers.

Last month, thousands of people had been detained during two days of protests across the country.

On Tuesday night, security forces “took” the centre of Moscow, arrest-squads deployed in vast numbers to all the main roads and squares.

In body armours and helmets, they formed long lines beneath the multicoloured street lights still hanging up from New Year. Protesters were massively outnumbered.

The official show of force was like a postscript to the message sent by imprisoning Alexei Navalny: the Kremlin is fully ready to crush those who challenge its authority.

But Mr Navalny’s supporters refuse to be silent.

Hundreds were detained tonight, and judging by the honking car horns in central Moscow – a new phenomenon – many more people are angered by what happened on Tuesday, than those ready to risk taking to the streets in open protest.

culled from BBC NEWS