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Top Russian opposition channel vows to fight closure

Russia's top opposition television channel vowed Tuesday to fight attempts to silence it after several providers took it off air under apparent pressure from authorities. Dozhd (TV Rain), an independent Internet and cable channel known for its critical coverage of President Vladimir Putin, pledged to do all it could to avoid closure, and offered cable operators free content until the year's end. "Our independence irritated them," general director Natalia Sindeyeva told a news conference, in an apparent reference to the authorities.

Putin critic Navalny seeks permission to visit Sochi

MOSCOW (Reuters) - Russian opposition figure and anti-corruption blogger Alexei Navalny, who is restricted from travelling outside Moscow, has requested permission to visit Sochi during the Winter Olympics, according to his blog and his press secretary. Navalny has criticized spending on the games, which he said last week had already reached $50 billion - five times more than the 2010 Vancouver Olympics.

Russia, US in new row after Russian diplomats charged

Russia and the United States were on Friday embroiled in a new diplomatic dispute after Moscow reacted furiously to charges launched in the United States against 49 current and former Russian diplomats and their wives over a $1.5 million fraud. Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov said in a statement to Russian news agencies that Moscow had many claims against the behaviour of US diplomats in Moscow but had preferred not to bring them into the public sphere.

Top Putin critic elected leader of unregistered party

Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny announced Sunday he had been elected president of the unregistered Popular Alliance party. "I have been elected president of Popular Alliance. Thank you for your confidence," said the 37-year-old on Twitter. The conference for the party, founded in 2012 by Navalny supporters, took place in a Moscow hotel where members voted in large majority for the protest leader.

Russian court freezes assets of protest leader Navalny

A Moscow court on Tuesday froze the assets of protest leader Alexei Navalny as part of an investigation into alleged fraud and money laundering by him and his brother Oleg. The Basmanny District Court agreed with a petition by investigators and "ordered a freeze on assets belonging to the two brothers Navalny," spokeswoman Natalia Romanova told AFP. She did not explain which particular assets had been affected.

Thousands of Russian nationalists march in Moscow

About 10,000 Russian ultra-nationalists marched through Moscow on Monday in a protest against Muslim migrants that saw police make dozens of arrests. Moscow authorities said they detained about 30 young men for making Nazi-style salutes and breaking the windows of cars driven by people who looked like they came from impoverished Muslim regions of the Caucasus and Central Asia. "Why are there foreigners in our cities? This is our home," said a young woman on the march who identified herself only as Nadezhda.

Top Putin critic urges Russians to join nationalist march

Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny has thrown his weight behind a controversial nationalist march in Moscow as rights activists warn of growing xenophobia in the country. The top critic of President Vladimir Putin is known for his ability to mobilise mass street protests, although he said he himself would have to skip Monday's Russian March. "Participating in the Russian March is important," Navalny wrote on his blog late Saturday. "All those who are considering whether to go or not: go."

Russia lays new theft charges against Putin foe Navalny

MOSCOW (Reuters) - President Vladimir Putin's most prominent critic said on Tuesday he had been served with new theft and money laundering charges, describing them as a part of an attempt to "terrorize" those who displease authorities. Under the charges filed by the federal Investigative Committee, Alexei Navalny and his brother Oleg face up to ten years jail. In a separate case, a Russian court handed Navalny, 37, a suspended five-year sentence for theft last month.

Russia indicts protest leader Navalny in fraud case

Russian investigators moved to indict protest leader Alexei Navalny in a fraud and laundering case Tuesday, just days after he walked out of another case with a suspended term. Navalny and his brother Oleg "stole" a total of 30 million rubles and laundered 21 million rubles from French cosmetics company Yves Rocher and a Russian firm MPK, the powerful Investigative Committee said, formally presenting the charges.

Thousands protest Putin's crackdown in Russia

Several thousand Russians marched through central Moscow on Sunday in a new protest at President Vladimir Putin's rule and a judicial crackdown against opponents. Chanting "Putin is a thief" and "Freedom to political prisoners!", protesters marched with flags and portraits of people seen as victims of political persecution, such as jailed former oil tycoon Mikhail Khodorkovsky, members of punk band Pussy Riot, and the Greenpeace Arctic crew.
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