Russia on Edge
|Dan Levin||May 24th 2012|
RFE/RL and Services
Two key figures in the ongoing street protests against Putinism and Russian political stagnation have been released after serving two-week jail terms over a demonstration.
The leader of Russia's opposition Left Front, Sergei Udaltsov, was the first to be freed, after serving his 15-day sentence. He immediately headed for a gathering of opposition activists at the Arbat in Moscow.
Udaltsov and another key opposition voice since Duma elections aroused public anger in December, Aleksei Navalny, were detained during a demonstration in Moscow on May 9.
Navalny, who has parlayed his status as an anticorruption blogger into star status among those disgruntled with Kremlin maneuvering, was also released overnight. Udaltsov joined activists near the monument to well-known Soviet-era musician Bulat Okudzhava, urging supporters not to give up their protests against the return of Vladimir Putin to the presidency and the government.
Udaltsov told ITAR-TASS he would attend a public hearing on a new bill to stiffen penalties for holding or participating in unsanctioned demonstrations later in the day and would then spend time planning the next protest action scheduled for June 12. Navalny was also released.