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Thousands join pro-Navalny protest in Moscow
July 19, 2013, 11:06 am


Police detained over 200 demonstrators during the unsanctioned rally [AP]

Thousands of Russians took to the streets in downtown Moscow on Thursday to show their support for protest leader Alexei Navalny, who was sentenced to five years in prison for embezzlement.

Navalny was released on bail early on Friday morning but travel restrictions have been imposed.

The unauthorised “People’s Meeting” was arranged largely through social networks and mobile message alerts started around 19:00 pm local time.

Moscow police shut down Red Square and Manezh Square to prevent protests at the popular landmarks.

The protests caused heavy traffic in some parts of the city.

Some of the protesters were chanting “Freedom,” “Shame,” and raising anti-Putin slogans.

Navalny was found guilty of heading a company that embezzled $500,000 worth of lumber from the KirovLes state timber firm.

The opposition leader has claimed the charges were politically motivated.

The rally ended in the early hours of Friday morning, with demonstrations still taking place close to the Kremlin after midnight.

Police detained over 200 demonstrators during the unsanctioned rally.

“Around 200 people were detained yesterday,” said Alexei Mayorov, the acting chief of the department of regional security at the mayor’s office, adding that “the rally organisers have been thoroughly prepared as they had lots of leaflets and stickers.”

“People faced off on purpose, but thanks to accurate actions of the police and their patience, serious incidents were avoided,” he said.

According to a public opinion poll conducted by the Levada-Centre in late May, 35 per cent of the respondents did not approve of politicians such as Navalny, and only six per cent said they approve.

The remaining 59 per cent of those polled said they knew nothing about Alexei Navalny.

Daria Chernyshova in Moscow, Russia for The BRICS POST, with inputs from Agencies

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