Anti-Kremlin Protests Rock Major Russian Cities

Opposition supporters across the country rallied against government corruption.

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 protests appear to be the largest since 2012, Reuters reported. Authorities arrested hundreds of demonstrators, including Navalny and Guardian reporter Alec Luhn, who was covering the protests.

“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:

Yuri Maltsev / Reuters
Police officers detain an opposition supporter during a rally in Vladivostok.
OLGA MALTSEVA via Getty Images
Opposition supporters yell during a rally in central Saint Petersburg.
OLGA MALTSEVA via Getty Images
A crowd of opposition supporters assembled in central Saint Petersburg.
Maxim Shemetov / Reuters
Law enforcement officers gather to block opposition supporters in Moscow.
Sergei Karpukhin / Reuters
A law enforcement officer climbs a lamp pole to detain opposition supporters in Moscow.
OLGA MALTSEVA via Getty Images
Protesters carry a cutout figure depicting Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev in central Saint Petersburg.
OLGA MALTSEVA via Getty Images
Protesters wave signs and Russian flags in central Saint Petersburg.
Sergei Karpukhin / Reuters
A woman argues with law enforcement officers as they block a rally in Moscow.
Maxim Shemetov / Reuters
Opposition supporters move a car to block a van transporting detained anti-corruption campaigner and opposition figure Alexei Navalny during a rally in Moscow.
Mikhail Svetlov via Getty Images
Opposition activists rally in front of the Pushkin monument in Moscow's Pushkinskaya Square.
Yuri Maltsev / Reuters
A opposition supporter holds a cutout figure depicting Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev in Vladivostok.
Maxim Shemetov / Reuters
Protesters wave a Russian flag during a rally in Moscow.
Maxim Shemetov / Reuters
An opposition supporter blocks a police van transporting Navalny during a rally in Moscow.
Maxim Shemetov / Reuters
Law enforcement officers detain an opposition supporter in Moscow.
Maxim Shemetov / Reuters
Law enforcement officers detain an opposition supporter in Moscow.
Yuri Maltsev / Reuters
Opposition supporters raise signs in Vladivostok.

This article has been updated with comment from the State Department.

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