Over 100 detained in anti-Putin demonstrations across Russia

COMPILED FROM WIRE SERVICES
ISTANBUL
Published 30.04.2017 00:00
Updated 30.04.2017 00:04
Russian opposition activists stand in queue for the presidential administration office, to deliver letters calling for Vladimir Putin not to stand for the 2018 election, during an opposition rally in central Moscow, Russia, 29 April 2017. (EPA Photo)
Russian opposition activists stand in queue for the presidential administration office, to deliver letters calling for Vladimir Putin not to stand for the 2018 election, during an opposition rally in central Moscow, Russia, 29 April 2017. (EPA Photo)

Police detained over 100 activists in Saint Petersburg on Saturday as hundreds of Russian opposition supporters turned out to protest against President Vladimir Putin's expected candidacy in elections next year.

Protests in several cities were called by the Open Russia movement founded by arch-Putin foe and former oil magnate Mikhail Khodorkovsky.

They were held under the slogan "We're sick of him" -- a reference to Putin.

About 200 people gathered in central Saint Petersburg for an unauthorized demonstration, an AFP journalist witnessed, and OVD-Info, which monitors detentions of political activists, said more than 110 protesters were hauled away by riot police.

"Police officers ended the actions... of 100 people who continued to trouble the public order," the Saint Petersburg police said, without confirming if they had been arrested.

A similarly sized protest in Moscow remained peaceful as activists gathered at the offices of Putin's administration and handed in petitions against his expected candidacy in 2018.

"I don't want Putin to stand in the next elections," said Anna Bazarova, a 16-year-old student queuing up to hand in her petition.

"Our main problem is that we can't change those in power," she said.

She added that many of her friends had opted not to attend, fearing detention by the police.

Riot police stood guard as officers used loudspeakers to warn protesters: "Citizens, your action has not been agreed by the authorities."

One of the organizers, Yakov Yermakov, handed out forms for people to fill out with complaints to Putin.

"Our president has already been in power 17 years. We think that's too long. Our country isn't developing," he said.

Putin has not yet publicly announced if he will run for a fourth term in office in next year's election, although many in Russia expect he will.

The Russian capital saw its biggest political protest in years last month, during which over 1,000 people were detained. Opposition leader Alexei Navalny had called for the protest, accusing Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev of corruption.

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