Mass arrest of protesters in Russia

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Russian police have made nearly 500 arrests at opposition rallies in the country’s two main cities, including several well-known protest figures.

Opposition leader Alexei Navalny was among those picked up in Moscow on Monday evening, as he attended an unapproved rally near the Kremlin.

He and others have appeared in court, charged with offences that entail a fine or detention of up to 15 days.

The rallies were called to protest at sentences passed on other activists.

Seven people had received prison terms of up to four years on Monday, for rioting and attacking police at a demonstration against Vladimir Putin’s inauguration for a third presidential term in May 2012, in Bolotnaya Square, Moscow. Human rights organisation Amnesty International condemned the sentences as a “hideous injustice”, at the end of a “show trial”.

While the rallies on Monday in Moscow and St Petersburg were called to protest at the Bolotnaya sentences, some demonstrators also made shows of solidarity with the protesters in Ukraine, who brought down President Viktor Yanukovych last week.

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