Moscow police arrest activists ahead of Putin speech: report

AFP , Wednesday 11 Apr 2012

Russian opposition protesters face arrests ahead of keynote speech by Prime Minister Vladimir Putin, his last before reclaiming the presidency in May

Moscow police on Wednesday arrested several Russian opposition activists protesting outside parliament ahead of a keynote speech by Prime Minister Vladimir Putin, media reports said.

Half a dozen activists, including ultra-left wing leader Sergei Udaltsov were arrested outside the State Duma lower house of parliament, the Interfax news agency reported.

Udaltsov told Interfax by phone after his arrest that his group had only started approaching the State Duma when they were apprehended by the police.

Putin is at 0800 GMT to give his annual speech as prime minister to the State Duma where he is expected to outline the policy achievements of the last year but could also touch on future plans.

The address is expected to be one of Putin's last major policy speeches before he steps down as prime minister to reclaim the presidency in his inauguration on 7 May.

Putin easily won the 4 March presidential election despite the emergence of a nascent protest movement against his 12-year domination of Russia. The opposition claimed that the polls were heavily slanted in his favour.

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