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Russia jails opposition leader for scheduling an unauthorized protest

Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny (center) is escorted by police officers to the police vehicle on Monday after his trial at a Moscow courthouse. He was sentenced to 30 days in jail over an unsanctioned protest earlier this year, just days before another planned political rally. (VASILY MAXIMOV/AFP/Getty Images)

On Monday, Russian authorities sentenced opposition leader Alexei Navalny to 30 days in jail. He was convicted of breaking Russia's strict laws regulating public protests.

Who is Alexei Navalny?

President Vladimir Putin's government barred Navalny from running in Russia's presidential election, which took place in March. Predictably, through a range of tactics that included barring the opposition and possible widespread election fraud, Putin won with 76.69 percent of the vote.

On Jan. 28, Navalny organized a rally near the Red Square in Moscow to call for a boycott of the presidential election. Even though the elections itself is skewed, Putin still likes to boast about voter turnout. A boycott would (theoretically) rob him of that.

What are the charges?

In Russia, private citizens are not allowed to organize a protest wherever and whenever they want. They need to file a request with the government that states the time, place, and size of the protest to take place. Russian authorities often reject any rallies that apply for permits to take place in central Moscow, offering more remote locations as alternatives.

Navalny, 42, was detained on Saturday. He was found guilty of breaking the law for his involvement with the Jan.28 rally in Moscow.

This isn't Navalny's first visit to a Russian jail this year. On May 15, Navalny was jailed for 30 days for helping to organize anti-Putin protests on May 5.

What else?

Navalny said that the authorities had chosen to arrest him now for something he had done back in January in order to prevent a protest he was planning on Sept. 9.

The focus of that protest is a government plan to raise the retirement age from 55 for women and 60 for men, to 63 for women and 65 for men. Putin, 65, had previously promised that he would never raise the retirement age.

The life expectancy in Russia is 73 for women but only 66 for men — barely over the new retirement age.

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