Thousands of Russians gathered on Sunday to demonstrate against government corruption in what may be the biggest anti-Kremlin protest in years.
Unsanctioned rallies in several cities ― including Moscow, Saint Petersburg and Vladivostok ― sprung up after Alexei Navalny, who plans to run against President Vladimir Putin in the 2018 election, published allegations that Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev had accumulated a massive fortune surpassing his official salary.
The rallies attracted an “[u]nprecedented number of young Russians,” reported Max Seddon, a Moscow correspondent for The Financial Times. They grew to massive numbers in cities where Putin once commanded strong support.
The U.S. State Department condemned the arrests of protesters.
“We call on the government of Russia to immediately release all peaceful protesters,” department spokesman Mark Toner said Sunday in a statement.
Photos show demonstrators waving signs with rubber ducks, a reference to Navalny’s allegation that Medvedev has a house for one of his ducks, the BBC reported. Others donned green face paint ― a callback to Navalny being attacked with green liquid last week ― and blocked the car transporting him after he was detained in Moscow.
See images from the rallies across Russia:
This article has been updated with comment from the State Department.