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Russia: new opposition unity before arrests

Russia: new opposition unity before arrests
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Russian police have arrested leading opponents of President Vladimir Putin who were protesting in Moscow.

Alexei Navalny and Sergei Udaltsov were detained even though they claimed they had not been breaking the law.

The opposition’s application for a mass demonstration had been turned down by city hall. So they claimed to be staging individual protests which are not banned.

Udaltsov’s lawyer Violetta Volkova said: “What are they doing? They are not holding placards. The police just went up to Udaltsov. Is it illegal to be more than three people together? I think he was held illegally.”

Earlier the newly formed opposition coordination council met in Moscow for the first time.

Navalny, who is best known for campaigning against corruption came top in an internet vote last weekend to pick a shadow parliament.

“It is obviously just the first step on a very hard and perhaps a long road but today the Russian opposition got a real united coordinating body,” said another opposition leader at the meeting, Garry Kasparov.

The online election was intended to bring together disparate anti-Putin groups that often had little in common other than their opposition to him.
Despite big street demonstrations last year and this, the movement has failed to make concrete inroads against him.