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Hundreds Detained Across Russia for Protesting Corruption on Russia Day

Hundreds Detained Across Russia for Protesting Corruption on Russia Day

On Monday — Russia Day, a national holiday widely misunderstood in Russia itself — thousands took to the streets of over 160 cities across Russia. They were not there to mark Russia’s reaffirmed sovereign statehood (the actual raison d’être of the day), but to protest corruption.

Like the last wave of anti-corruption protests in March, young people — teenagers and schoolchildren — were notably present, as were rubber ducks, which have become a sign of anti-corruption protesters, a reference to Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev’s house of ducks, exposed in a recent report on corruption.

Unlike those protests, which were directed against the prime minister, Monday’s demonstrations featured calls of “Putin is a thief,” “Russia without Putin,” and “Down with the tsar!”

The organizer of the protests was Alexei Navalny, a lawyer turned opposition activist turned presidential candidate. But Navalny was detained early in the day. On Twitter, Navalny’s wife, Yulia, encouraged Muscovites to go to the main thoroughfare of Tverskaya Street, blocked off with barricades ostensibly for historical reenactments for Russia Day, rather than going to officially sanctioned protest zones.

Hundreds were arrested by police across the country, including a score in distant Vladivostok. In St. Petersburg, the number was 300, including teenagers.

And in Moscow, up to 750 were detained, including journalists, putting to the test one of Navalny’s refrains: “They cannot put everyone in prison.”

If Russia Day is widely misunderstood, this particular version had a theme: Russians continue to protest against corruption, and for Russia.

Photo credit: MLADEN ANTONOV/AFP/Getty Images