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Russian protest leaders held as Putin, Medvedev swap

May 8, 2012 09:21

MOSCOW - Russian police on Tuesday detained two opposition leaders for staging an overnight sit-in against Vladimir Putin's return to the Kremlin for a six-year term that has sparked a new wave of protests against the country's rulers.

Alexei Navalny and Sergei Udaltsov, two of the most charismatic organizers of protests that have shaken Putin's authority, were among several hundred demonstrators who spent the night in a park near the Kremlin administration offices.

The protesters also criticized a job swap between Russia's two top leaders that will be completed when former president Dmitry Medvedev is confirmed as the new prime minister later on Tuesday by the State Duma, the lower house of parliament.

Many Russians say the swap, announced last September, shows how Putin has stripped them of any say in politics and it helped prompt the biggest opposition protests of Putin's 12-year domination of Russia.

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