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Russia anti-corruption protests: Putin's opposition leader amongst hundreds arrested

27 Mar 2017 | By Anupama Vijayakumar

Anti-corruption protesters across major Russian cities including Moscow and St. Petersburg, took to the streets to protest corruption within President Vladimir Putin's administration. Russian police arrested hundreds of protesters in Moscow alone for partaking in "unsanctioned rallies".

Among those arrested were Alexey Navalny, head of the Russia Progressive Party. Navalny's Foundation for fighting corruption had planned to hold protests in about 25 cities.

In context: Anti-corruption protests: Russia cracks down on opposition

03 Mar 2017Alexey Navalny accuses Medvedev of corruption

Alexey Navalny accused former President Medvedev of amassing wealth in a newly released report. The report alleged that Medvedev "openly created a corrupt network of charitable foundations through which he receives bribes from oligarchs and frantically builds himself palaces and vacation homes across the whole country".

Medvedev's spokeswoman called the report "propagandistic...clearly electioneering in nature."

The Kremlin remained largely silent on the matter.

24 Mar 2017Communists demand investigation against Medvedev

Three Communist Party members in the Duma, including Denis Parfyonov, put in a formal request for investigation into the allegations made against Medvedev.

While noting how the Kremlin's silence on the matter was working against them, he said, "We believe the information receives rigorous check".

This follows another Communist member, Valery Rashkin's appeal to Federal Investigative Committee Chief Aleksandr Bastrykin.

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27 Mar 2017Russia anti-corruption protests: Putin's opposition leader amongst hundreds arrested

Setting the scene

BackgroundSetting the scene

Russia is said to be on a path to resurgence. While Putin's military campaigns in Syria and Ukraine granted credence to the argument, former President Medvedev's popularity has been hit, following corruption allegations.

Mass anti-corruption protests seem to indicate the public's demand for investigation.

The protests, further come about in the background of Navalny's campaign for 2018 and the Putin administration's crackdown on opposition.

Mass protests in Russia

Anti-corruption protests are latest in line of some of the largest coordinated protests in Russia. Previous protests were seen in 2011 and 2012, following allegations of malpractice in Russia's Parliamentary election. Putin had accused the then US Secretary of State, Hilary Clinton of inciting them.

DetailsWhat are they protesting?

The protests are part of a campaign named "He is not your Dimon", launched against former Russian President Dmitri Medvedev's involvement in corruption.

Navalny's earlier report noted that Medvedev acquired yachts, wine yards and agricultural estates using fake companies and bribes from oligarchs.

Navalny, set to contest for the 2018 Presidential elections, was recently convicted of embezzlement, although the case is currently under appeal.

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Navalny v Kremlin

Navalny has alleged corruption against a number of high profile ministers. A 2015 report raised questions on Russian Chief Prosecutor, Yury Chaika's association with crime families. Igor Shuvalov, a deputy PM was revealed to have spent $7 million on apartments in a Moscow skyscraper.

AnalysisWhat could happen?

Navalny's video on Medvedev has garnered upto 11 million views, gained political traction and has resonated with the public. It would be difficult for the Kremlin to avoid investigation in the long-term.

Medvedev, seen responsible for Russia's financial crisis ranks is highly unpopular. According to James Nixey at Chatham house, Medvedev is dispensable, disposable and would make an ideal scapegoat for Putin if needed.