Anti-corruption protesters – including the opposition leader and liberal icon Alexei Navalny – were arrested across Russia on Sunday, as the government moved to swiftly disband gatherings it deemed illegal.
Hundreds were arrested in Moscow alone, where marchers proceeded along a prominent shopping avenue and activists used cars to obstruct the movement of security vehicles.
The nationwide protests were the largest in five years. A similiar outpouring of anti-Putin fervor occurred in 2011, which was partly inspired by yet another sham election that reaffirmed Putin and his United Russia party’s grasp on power.
Navalny – whose arrest was witnessed by a Reuters reporter – organized the protest in order to call attention to the rampant corruption in Russian politics.
The US State Department, as is routine, condemned the arrests, releasing the following statement:
The Russian people, like people everywhere, deserve a government that supports an open marketplace of ideas, transparent and accountable governance, equal treatment under the law, and the ability to exercise their rights without fear of retribution.
Trump, however, has indicated a fondness for Putin, evidenced in his numerous compliments paid to the Russian strongman leader throughout the 2016 election cycle. Trump and his advisors are currently under investigation for their ties to Russian officials, hackers, and businessmen.