Russia: Navalny to lead protest movement

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Anti-Putin blogger Alexai Navalny has been selected to lead the opposition movement and will now be tasked with turning mass street protests into more structured attack on the Russian President.

More than 81,000 people voted online to chose 45 new leaders, who it is hoped will unify protesters and give them direction.

Professional chess player Garry Kasparov and writer Dmitry Bykov were also popular choices and will join the opposition’s coordination council. Navalny was the outright winner with 43.723 votes.

It is reported the election had to be extended by a day due to cyber-attacks on the platform.

Putin has been the subject of spirited protests since returning to the presidency for a third time in May but the opposition candidates gained no ground in Russia’s regional elections on October 14.

Russian opposition leader detained

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Russian opposition leader Sergei Udaltsov has was led away by police on Wednesday morning, as authorities began criminal proceedings against him, and other associates, for planning “mass disorder” in protests against President Vladimir Putin.

The charges focus on allegations, made in a pro-Kremlin documentary, which claims Udaltsov received money and orders to cause mass unrest in Russia, from an ally of Georgian President Mikeil Saakashcili. The charges carry a jail sentence of up to 10 years.

The head of the investigation committee, Vladimir Markin, gave a warning to protest leaders:

“I would like to warn all of those who think that one can organise without consequences, massive disorders and terror attacks that threaten the life and health of civilians in our country. You don’t imagine how professional our special services are,and you don’t know our laws and our penal code.”

Udaltsov who has led a series of protests sanctioned by Moscow denies the allegations against him.

His supporters say the Kremlin is conducting a politically motivated crackdown on protest leaders.