Russian police took up positions near the Kremlin on Monday morning, ready to break up a planned protest organized by the country’s leading political opposition figure — a man who hopes to challenge President Vladimir Putin’s clutch on power in 2018 elections.

CBS News correspondent Elizabeth Plamer reported crowds of demonstrators were heading into central Moscow.

After weeks of negotiating, Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalvy got permission to hold his Moscow rally in a different downtown square, but less than a day before the protest he said no one would rent him sound and video equipment — under pressure, he claimed, from the government to embarrass his movement — so he changed the venue.

As Palmer reports, that means his protest is no longer authorized by the government, and it all but guarantees clashes with the police and, quite possibly, another arrest for Navalny, who was detained at his last protest in March.

After the change, Moscow police warned that “any provocative actions from the protesters’ side will be considered a threat to public order and will be immediately suppressed.”

The March protests took authorities across the country by surprise, given the huge turnout in cities across Russia. Thousands took to the streets — mostly young people who support Navalny’s anti-corruption message, but who are also angry about everything from unemployment to state control of the media. More than 1,000 protesters were arrested.

Navalny is a populist, explains Palmer, and a provocateur with a genius for publicity.


Author: Yemi Olarinre