A fine and 15 days in prison for Alexei Navalny. Criticism from Europe and the US
Moscow claims many young people were paid to take part in the demonstrations. Navalny: "More than a thousand people were arrested yesterday, but it is impossible to stop millions." For EU and the US: an "affront to democracy."
Moscow (AsiaNews) - Alexei Navalny, a lawyer and leader of an anti-corruption and anti-Putin movement, was sentenced to 15 days in prison and to pay a fine for having organized unauthorized demonstrations two days ago, among the most successful in the last few years.
The Kremlin has branded the events as a "provocation" and arrested more than a thousand people. The United States and the European Union have expressed concern about the arrests, denouncing them as an "affront to democracy."
Navalny was arrested while trying to reach the demonstration in Moscow. The city's district court sentenced him to a fine of 20 thousand rubles (about $ 350 US) and to serve 15 days in jail. Navalny had called for demonstrations after publishing a video that accuses the Prime Minister Dimitri Medvedev of corruption. The video was seen by at least 11 million people.
During the trial yesterday, the 40-year old lawyer has claimed responsibility for the rallies. "The authorities are accused of stealing several million, but remain silent," he said. "More than a thousand people were arrested yesterday, but it is impossible to stop millions."
The Kremlin spokesman has called the protest "a lie and a provocation" and said that many young people had been promised a "financial reward" if they attended and were arrested.
"I'm happy - said Navalny – I was born in a generation and nation [of people] who want to be citizens, who are not fearful."
For Moscow, 500 were arrested and have been released; for some NGOs there were over a thousand arrests and 120 of these still remain in jail.
The European Union has asked Russia to release the demonstrators and expressed concern at the fact that the police have "hampered the exercise of basic freedoms of expression, association and peaceful assembly."
The spokesman of the US State Department said that the detention of "peaceful demonstrators, human rights defenders and journalists is an affront to the heart of democratic values. "