Russia’s opposition vowed to wage a campaign of civil disobedience after police detained hundreds in rallies against Vladimir Putin’s crushing victory in polls.
“Tens of thousands will be coming out on the streets of Moscow and other cities and refusing to leave,” popular blogger Alexei Navalny told reporters after spending part of the night in detention.
Navalny and two other leaders of the disparate anti-Putin opposition were due to attend hearings on Tuesday after refusing to break up a rally in Moscow late Monday when given a police ultimatum.
Monday’s protests in Moscow and Saint Petersburg mark a sobering start for a leader who knew no dissent while dominating Russia in his first two terms in the Kremlin in 2000-2008.
Putin won Sunday’s presidential election with 63.6 percent of the vote and in May will be sworn in to serve for a six-year term that can theoretically be extended. But European monitors raised concerns about the polls and the opposition — its leaders excluded from both the polls and most access to state media — have vowed to make protests a permanent feature of Putin’s new presidency.
Liberal campaigner Ilya Yashin faced a 15-day jail sentence while Navalny himself said he may have to pay a small fine.
Opposition leaders said they will have to cancel a protest on International Woman’s Day public holiday on Thursday and would now prepare for mass events over the weekend.