Russia′s Alexei Navalny released day after mass anti-Putin protests | News | DW | 06.05.2018
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Russia's Alexei Navalny released day after mass anti-Putin protests

Nearly 1,600 protesters were arrested during anti-Putin protests across the country. Human rights groups have called on Russian authorities to "immediately release all peaceful protesters."

Alexei Navalny during a protest in central Moscow

Opposition leader Alexei Navalny led protests in central Moscow before being arrested

Russian authorities released opposition leader Alexei Navalny on Sunday, a day after he was arrested along with nearly 1,600 protesters across the country.

Police charged Navalny with organizing an unauthorized gathering and disobeying police orders, according to the opposition leader. His lawyer, Veronika Polyakova, said he is due in court on May 11.

Read more: Alexei Navalny: 'There is no pro-Putin majority' 

Navalny was arrested on Saturday shortly after arriving at Pushkin Square in Moscow during anti-government demonstrations, leading protesters in chants of "Down with the tsar."

'They received an order'

Days before, Navalny called on Russians to take to the streets and oppose a fourth presidential term for Putin, who is to be inaugurated on Monday. Local authorities considered it "provocation and irresponsible behavior," reported state-owned TASS news agency.

"It appears they received an order 'do not put him behind bars before the inauguration,'" Navalny said in a tweet.

'Outrageous'

The violent crackdown on protesters was criticized internationally, with the EU condemning Russian authorities for "police brutality and mass arrests."

"The detention of over a thousand demonstrators and violence used against them by the Russian authorities across the country threaten the fundamental freedoms of expression, association and assembly in the Russian Federation," the EU said in a statement.

Read more: Who are the allies of Russia's Vladimir Putin in Germany?

Human rights watchdog Amnesty International said it was "outrageous" that police and pro-Kremlin supporters would use force against protesters even if gathering had not been previously authorized.

"The authorities should immediately release all peaceful protesters arrested and launch an independent, thorough and effective investigation in the use of force by police, and the attacks on the protesters by the 'Cossacks,'" said Denis Krivosheev, Amnesty's deputy director for Eastern Europe and Central Asia.

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Anti-Putin protests end in violence, arrests

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