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Russian opposition rallies for jailed leader

Russian opposition rallies for jailed leader
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Supporters of Russia’s opposition have been gathering in Moscow in protest over the jailing of one of their leaders.

Their anger follows the latest sentence handed down to Sergei Udaltsov, who was jailed for an extra 10 days on 25 December. Over the past year he has spent more than three months behind bars, sometimes going on hunger strike.

More than 2,000 people signed up for the rally via Facebook, and hundreds are reported to have turned up.

It is seen as a test of the government’s tolerance of dissent. Permission for the protest was refused – so the organisers called it a public meeting with an opposition MP, something which is technically allowed by law.

Demonstrators chanted “freedom for political prisoners”.

Lawyers describe the case against Udaltsov as politically motivated persecution.

On Wednesday, in response to separate protests against parliamentary election results, Prime Minister Vladimir Putin said he was ready for dialogue with Russia’s opposition, but he has ruled out a re-run of the vote.