Russia: Dozens arrested during anti-government demonstrations

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Russia: Dozens arrested during anti-government demonstrations

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Dozens of anti-government protesters have been arrested, after joining unsanctioned rallies in St Petersburg and Moscow.

Some of the demonstrators sat on the ground as police moved in to disperse the crowds.

Kremlin critics accuse Vladimir Putin of launching a growing crackdown on dissent, since his controversial return to the presidency earlier this year.

The demonstrations came on the same day as blogger and protest leader Alexei Navalny was charged with theft. He could now be jailed for up to 10 years.

Navalny has dismissed the allegations as “absurd.”

Meanwhile, lawyers for three members of the punk band Pussy Riot – on trial accused of hooliganism -say almost all defence requests and appeals are being denied.

The feminist rockers are in court after peforming an anti-Putin “punk prayer” in Moscow’s main cathedral.

“The girls have already said that they don’t understand the charges, and I think many people around don’t understand them either,” said Olga, one of their supporters.

“It’s very sad that such trials are taking place in our country.”