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April 30 2017, 06:45 | Irvin Gilbert
Over 7000 people attend "unauthorized" protest in Moscow
Russian police on Sunday detained more than 500 people during protests which took place in several cities including Moscow and St. Petersburg.
The protest in Tambov had been banned by authorities.
A Kremlin spokesman said youngsters had been offered money by protest organizers to show up.
In this photo taken on Tuesday, March 28, 2017, Andrei Polyakov talks to the Associated Press in Tambov, Russia.
As Putin eyes a potential fourth term as president next year, it's still unclear what kind of opposition will form and whether these protests are a one-time reaction to specific corruption allegations or a sign of a larger movement to come.
"I want to know the truth", written on the placard that Nizhivenko was holding, got police attention, and she was scooped up into a police van. She has a court appearance next month for attending an illegal protest. Some liberals question his flirtation with extreme nationalists, and he is denied nearly any airtime by the state-controlled media. At least 13 journalists were roughed up and arrested covering Sunday's protests. Sixty thousand people gathered in cities across Russian Federation last Sunday to protest state corruption, with many fixing their ire on Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev, whose vast assets opposition leader and anti-corruption activist Alexei Navalny revealed in an investigation released at the beginning of March. Compare that to the 1.5 million views video blogger "SOBOLEV" attracted in one day with a clip explaining Sunday's protests to his 2.5 million followers (almost four times the number of YouTube users subscribed to the entire Rossiya channel).
And the usual spiel that illiberal leaders everywhere dish out when faced with popular dissent was on full display with Moscow calling the accusations of corruption "provocation and lies" and accusing the organizers of "tricking people into protesting and paying teenagers to participate". AP has reported that the billionaire who runs Rusal, one of the largest aluminum companies in the world, allegedly paid a former Trump campaign chief to "benefit the Putin government".
"He has a social position, against corruption, I support it completely", Maxim Shingarkin said. The country's media did not cover the allegations against Putin extensively, and the president dismissed the accusations as a foreign plot to weaken Russian Federation.
And yet, there they were, against all odds, taking to the streets in defiance of tyranny, convinced that somehow they could make a difference. "Exactly the Navalny electorate".
It's always been an open secret that Putin's close circle directly - and quite unconstitutionally - intervenes in the media. "I can't support our government, really", one protester said. Navalny was sentenced to 15 days in prison Monday. Under Russian law, convicted felons are unable to run for office.
The political crackdown that paralyzed Moscow protesters may not have reached Tambov, a city of pretty 19th-century mansions and pot-holed roads, but the fear is still palpable here.
But Sunday's rally also proved a test of the power of the internet. "You look at Moscow".
This time for the Russian people, and particularly the youth who predominated among Sunday's crowds, the issue is corruption, and the opulence of the lifestyle of the ruling Russian business and political elite, an issue referred to in the United States more euphemistically as "economic inequality".
The Moscow Police Department put out a statement Thursday urging people not to attend, calling it illegal and warning of a high risk of "provocative acts, created to violate public order".