Kremlin rejects US criticism of Russian protest arrests

Protesters chanted slogans such as "Putin is a thief!", and "Russia without Thieves".

Alexei Borsenko, a Vladivostok demonstrator who eluded a police attempt to detain him, cited Iceland's prime minister stepping down in the fallout from the "Panama Papers" scandal, while "our prime minister is caught on such big corruption cases and he doesn't go anywhere".

Protests for Russia Day, a national holiday, are said to be the largest demonstrations against Putin's government since 2012.

According to reports from Russian Federation, about 600 people were arrested during demonstrations in Moscow, in which 5,000 people participated. Many protesters took Russian flags.

Russian opposition leader Alexey Navalny has 30 days to ponder his next political move from prison after being found guilty of calling repeatedly for unlawful protests.

Over 200 people were detained Monday by police at opposition protests called by Kremlin critic Alexei Navalny, said a Russian NGO tracking arrests.

He already served a 15-day jail sentence for the same "offense" back in March-April.

The recent outpourings of discontent towards the government come as Moscow is to hold a presidential election next March, with many expecting President Putin to have six more years in office.

Anti-corruption protests erupted in more than 100 cities in Russian Federation on June 12, with close to a thousand protesters detained in Moscow and St. Petersburg.

The protests were organized in part by Alexei Navalny, leader of the opposition party to Putin. "The current protesters. have no illusions about the possibility of dialogue with the authorities". "We are cancelling the rally on Sakharov Avenue and moving it to Tverskaya Street", a main thoroughfare to the Kremlin, he said.

The Kremlin spokesman also dismissed a sharply worded statement read by White House press secretary Sean Spicer Monday night, declaring that "detaining peaceful protesters, human rights observers and journalists is an affront to core democratic values".

The Interior Ministry said the turnout at the Moscow protest was about 4,500 - significantly fewer than the numbers estimated by Reuters reporters, who put the turnout in the low tens of thousands.

The 41-year-old has announced his intention to run for president against Vladimir Putin and has been campaigning relentlessly around Russian Federation while also mounting a strong online presence via YouTube videos, attracting a younger generation, including minors. Moscow police said about 5,000 people participated in the Moscow demonstration. In Moscow, more than 150 were detained in the city's downtown "for violating public order", says state-run Tass media.

However, opposition activists claim substantially greater number of participants in both cities as well as across the country. Among those arrested was Maxim Reznik, the city's legislative assembly deputy.

FILE - In this Monday June 12, 2017 file photo, a protestor is pulled down from a lamppost during a demonstration in downtown Moscow, Russia, Monday, June 12, 2017.

A policeman stands in the rain during anti corruption rally in St.Petersburg, Russia, Monday, June 12, 2017.

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