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Russia arrests Navalny, detains 1,500 anti-graft demonstrators

Aleksei Navalny being arrested in March 2017More than 1,500 supporters of opposition leader Aleksei Navalny were detained during June 12 anti-corruption demonstrations across Russia, including 866 in Moscow and 548 in St. Petersburg.

France's AFP news agency reported that "many people still awaited processing while others were shuttled to court for hearings" on June 13.

"We've left the station. They are taking us to Tverskoy district court," opposition politician Ilya Yashin said in a tweet from Moscow.

Russia's Investigative Committee said one protester "sprayed tear gas into the eyes of a riot-police officer" and would be charged.

Navalny was detained before the demonstration in Moscow started. He was sentenced to 30 days in prison for staging unsanctioned rallies.

The White House Monday called on Russia to release all of the demonstrators, saying their detention was "an affront to core democratic values."

EU foreign-policy chief Federica Mogherini said the detention of peaceful demonstrators "threatens the fundamental freedoms of expression." Amnesty International said the crackdown "demonstrates the authorities' utter contempt for fundamental human rights."

Russia's presidential Council for Human Rights said Monday police in Moscow acted "calmly" and in a "correct" way "despite attempts of teenage protesters to provoke them to violence."

But witnesses and media reports said police violently dispersed protesters and beat others in police vehicles.

Navalny called for the June 12 rallies to protest alleged corruption and cronyism presided over by President Vladimir Putin.

He also led protests in March when more than 1,000 demonstrators were detained in Moscow.

Navalny was detained during the March demonstrations and served 15 days in jail.

Copyright (c) 2017. RFE/RL, Inc. Reprinted with the permission of Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, 1201 Connecticut Ave NW, Ste 400, Washington DC 20036.