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

Posted January 29, 2018

"I don't see any other way to register my protest", said Anna Kanunikova, a 32-year-old English translator, who was carrying a Russian flag.

Police shut down the studio at the office which had been broadcasting online bulletins, but another studio in a different location continued to operate.

Hundreds of supporters of Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny began a nationwide day of protest against the authorities on Sunday, calling on voters to boycott what they said was a rigged presidential election on March 18.

Moscow's prosecutors earlier warned organizers of an unsanctioned rally along the central street against violating the legislation on organization of rallies and demonstrations.

While Putin, 65, is assured of victory with popularity ratings of more than 80 percent, his most prominent opponent is counting on dissatisfaction at stagnant growth and living standards after the longest recession this century has fueled the protest mood.

Protesters also turned out in arctic areas of the country, where the temperature during winter is around -40 degrees, said CNN's Fred Pleitgen in Moscow. Police said the raid was in reaction to a tip-off about a potential bomb threat, the FT reported.

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Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny on December 25, 2017 urged voters to boycott the country's presidential ballot in March 2018 after election bosses barred him from standing.

Navalny was arrested in central Moscow earlier Sunday as his supporters called for a boycott of the March election, in which he has been banned from participating.

A dozen buses filled with riot police flanked the square as the protest gradually swelled. One anchor, Dmitri Nizovtsev, was detained by police during the raid, according to video broadcast by the headquarters. Police searched Navalny's campaign offices in several cities ahead of the protests.

"Putin has been in power for 18 years now", he said.

Authorities estimated the Moscow turnout at around 1,000 people.

The softer approach suggested authorities have adapted their tactics to Navalny, avoiding the mass arrests that had made global headlines past year and instead focusing on detaining the protests' organizers.

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But before those discussions can happen, officials want to talk to him about another matter: whether he knew about the past abuse. They assumed all the other siblings were children too but were shocked to discover seven of them were aged between 18 and 29.

Borodinov, who volunteers for Navalny's organization, had traveled several hours from a town outside Moscow.

Despite Mr Navalny's show of defiance, polls show Vladimir Putin is on course for a comfortable re-election which would keep him in office for another six years.

Photographs posted by Navalny and his supporters showed hundreds of people rallying Siberia and in southern Russian Federation.

The boycott called by Navalny is meant to weaken turnout at the election enough to discredit what is seen as Putin's inevitable victory.

In a Facebook post, Navalny wrote: "I am proud of all those who joined us today in any capacity: from Magadan to Sochi".

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