Kremlin rejects US criticism of Russian protest arrests

Moscow Mayor Sergei Sobyanin on Tuesday called anti-corruption protests that brought thousands of people onto the streets of the Russian capital "a unsafe provocation", Interfax news agency reported.

A live feed organized by opposition leader Alexei Navalny, who was detained in Moscow before he could attend what the authorities said was an illegal protest, showed demonstrations in scores of cities from Vladivostok to St Petersburg and thousands of people converging on central Moscow.

Alexey Navalny, Russian opposition leader has been detained after being found guilty for unlawful protest along with 1,400 during a mass protest on Monday.

Russia's government tried to head off the demonstration in Moscow by banning it from going ahead in the center of the city.

The Kremlin has dismissed Navalny's graft allegations, accusing him of irresponsibly trying to whip up unrest.

Police detain a protester during anti corruption rally in St.Petersburg, Russia, Monday, June 12, 2017.

That is likely to embolden him to call for more protests and keep Putin, who is expected to run for and win re-election next year, under rare domestic pressure.

A rally in Novosibirsk, Russia's third-largest city that's nearly 3,000 kilometres east of the capital, brought out about 5,000 people, local organiser Sergey Boyko said on Navalny's YouTube broadcast. "People are not afraid". And the Kremlin, I think, has been taken back by the scale of these protests and has reacted both times by detaining hundreds of protests as majority in Moscow and St. Petersburg. In Moscow, thousands of angry protesters held an unsanctioned rally on the capital's main street with riot police snatching hundreds of protesters from the crowd at random. In the daily press briefing, Spicer told reporters that "detaining peaceful protesters and journalists is an affront to core democratic values". Reuters witnesses saw a police auto leaving his apartment compound at high speed, followed a few minutes later by a minibus carrying about 10 policemen.

A spokeswoman for Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny says electricity has been cut at Navalny's offices in Moscow.

Navalny - who set it all in motion - was whisked through his court hearing on Monday and handed a 30 day prison sentence. Navalny called on Russians to take to the streets on Monday (June 12) - Russia Day - to express their anger at alleged corruption at the highest levels.

Several criminal probes into violence against police were launched though protesters said it was the police who used excessive force.

"Change is always good", Sukhoruchenkov said, adding that he and his friends were concerned about corruption — Navalny's rallying cry — that "manifests itself in all areas: from traffic police to university professors".

"I'm sick of the Putin system", he said.

"Putin has been in power for 17 years and is not planning to leave". Medvedev, a close Putin ally, flatly denies wrongdoing. "I'm proud that I'm in the same movement as you".

But Putin's spokesman, Dmitry Peskov, brushed off the suggestion that the outbreak of public dissatisfaction posed a danger to the Kremlin. "(Holding Monday's protests) on Russia Day was definitely a tactical decision. Navalny was fined and jailed for 15 days for his role in those protests. Other protesters scaled a scaffold and hung a sign saying, "Only revolution will defeat corruption".

Meanwhile, pro-Kremlin media blasted Navalny's decision to move his rally to central Tverskaya Street as a cynical and desperate attempt to distract attention from holiday events in the city, including a huge concert in Red Square.

For now, polls suggest Navalny has scant chance of unseating Putin, who enjoys high ratings. The anti-corruption campaigner was one of hundreds of arrests in across Russian Federation that day.

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