Russian investigators questioned anti-corruption blogger Alexey Navalny and another opposition leader over clashes with police the day before Vladimir Putin was inaugurated for his third term as president.
Navalny and the Left Front’s Sergei Udaltsov, who are serving 15-day jail terms, are being questioned in connection with two criminal cases that are punishable by as many as three and five years in prison respectively, the Investigative Committee said today in a statement on its website.
Mass protests against alleged fraud in parliamentary elections erupted in Moscow and other cities in December, sparking the largest unrest in Putin’s decade in power. Opposition leaders pledged to keep up protests after Putin’s disputed election to a new Kremlin term in March.
Twenty-nine officers were injured in clashes with anti- Putin protesters on May 6. More than 400 people were held after demonstrators began throwing rocks and flares, police said.
Navalny, jailed for 15 days in December after taking part in an unsanctioned rally, is one of the most prominent opposition figures who organized anti-government demonstrations to protest election results. He was arrested several times this week at various rallies before a court sentenced him to 15 days’ jail yesterday for disobeying police orders.
Investigators opened criminal probes on charges of inciting mass disturbances and violence against officials on May 6, when an authorized rally by tens of thousands of people in Moscow ended in violence.
While the Obama administration vowed to work with the newly elected Russian government, the U.S. is “troubled” by reports of violence in Moscow in the wake of the election, Mark Toner, a spokesman for the State Department, said this week.
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