Top Russian opposition leaders arrested at Moscow protest


Police detain opposition leader Sergei Udaltsov during an opposition rally this month. Critics of the new bills say they are aimed at restricting future protests.


Olga Maltseva

Police arrested top opposition leaders Alexei Navalny, Ilya Yashin and Sergei Udaltsov during a Moscow protest today, reported Reuters.

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Police said the activists had taken part in an unsanctioned protest after several hundred gathered outside the Federal Security Service building in the capital to protest political corruption and the arrest of activist Leonid Razvozzhayev earlier this month. Razvozzhayev claims he was kidnapped in Ukraine and tortured.

The three activists were arrested alongside several others outside the building, said Agence-France Presse. Demonstrators yelled "Shame!" at the police as they loaded them into vans, said Reuters

"I was walking on the sidewalk. They detained me without any explanation," Udaltsov tweeted afterwards, reported AFP

The head of Left Front, Udaltsov was charged Friday with "plotting mass disorder," accusations he denies as politically motivated. 

Udaltsov, together with Navalny and Yashin, played a pivotal role in the creation of the anti-Putin Opposition Coordination Council, a new opposition umbrella group organized by online vote in response to Russian leader Vladimir Putin's May election to a third term in office. 

Opposition blogger Navalny told Reuters that the 45-member council brings together "dozens, hundreds, thousands and millions of people who want positive changes in our country." 

Some 81,000 reportedly participated in the online formation of the Council. Russia is home to about 142 million people, according to Reuters