Putin critic Alexei Navalny arrested again on his way to protest

Anton Alikhanov

Mr Navalny's wife Yulia said he was arrested at the entrance to his home in Moscow about half an hour before the demonstration was due to begin. Navalny was arrested, along with hundreds of others, and was jailed for 15 days after being convicted of disobeying a police officer.

The mood was tense as some groups of protesters vowed to go to the authorised location and anxious doing otherwise could get them arrested.

Reuters witnesses saw a police vehicle leaving Navalny's apartment compound at high speed, followed a few minutes later by a minibus carrying around 10 policemen.

Police in riot gear detained at least 120 demonstrators at the anti-Kremlin protesters in Moscow's central Pushkin Square on Monday, while using loud hailers to tell them to disperse.

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Earlier this year, Navalny' was also handed a suspended prison sentence for alleged corruption, which will likely bar him from running for the presidency next year.

Tverskaya, known in Soviet times as Gorky Street, was closed off to traffic on Monday for an extensive commemoration of the national holiday Russia Day, including people dressed in historical Russian costumes. He said the authorities had prevented him from renting sound equipment needed for a sanctioned rally in a separate location.

The lawyer and political activist had earlier urged his supporters to join demonstations planned across the country for Monday June 12, which is also a national holiday in Russian Federation.

A live internet feed run from the opposition leader's office went offline and his spokeswoman said electricity to the office was cut.

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After the change, Moscow police warned that "any provocative actions from the protesters' side will be considered a threat to public order and will be immediately suppressed".

By calling crowds into the very centre of Moscow, Alexei Navalny has set the stage for a confrontation.

Navalny has become the most prominent figure in an opposition that has been troubled by factional disputes. Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny has called for anti-Kremlin protests on June 12, and activists in about 200 cities and towns are expected to turn out and demonstrate against government corruption. He is recovering after an assailant threw green dye in his face in April, the latest in a series of physical attacks.

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