Putin critic calls for Russia-wide protest

Russian protest leader Alexei Navalny called Thursday for a nation-wide rally in early September after his release from jail for disobeying police during a recent protest against Vladimir Putin.

"I believe we have to prepare some sort of nation-wide protest action in early September," Navalny said in comments on liberal-leaning Echo of Moscow radio after his release from jail.

He also said he would help prepare a mass rally on June 12, a public holiday in Russia. "I am calling on everyone to show up."

The 35-year-old Navalny spoke after walking out of prison to applause and cries of "Bravo" and "Well done" from around a hundred supporters including his wife who gathered outside the jail in south Moscow.

Navalny, the rising star of Russia's nascent protest movement against Putin's 12-year rule, and fellow activist Sergei Udaltsov of the leftist group Left Front, were jailed for 15 days after taking part in a protest on May 9, the day Russian marks victory over Nazi Germany in World War II.

Udaltsov was released earlier on Thursday and also greeted by dozens of supporters.

Last month Time magazine named Navalny among the world's 100 most influential people alongside US President Barack Obama, Iran's supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, and China's leader-in-waiting Xi Jinping.

Putin's September announcement to run for a third Kremlin term coupled with fraud-tainted parliamentary elections in December triggered unprecedented protests in Moscow this past winter.

The Russian strongman's crushing victory in March elections took much of the sting of the protest movement.

Opposition activists are now looking to re-group and try out new tactics like staging Occupy-style sit-ins and walks in the Moscow city centre as they seek to breathe a new life into the protest movement.


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