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Tuesday 23 May 2017

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The news that Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev was skiing while mass protests were being held in the country has sparked a reaction on social media. (file photo)

On a day of nationwide protests in which the Russian prime minister came under intense fire for alleged corruption, Dmitry Medvedev apparently took to the slopes.

While tens of thousands of protesters took to the streets of Russia on March 26 to express their anger, Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev was at the top of the world, skiing.

"How was your day?" an Instagram user identified as inspiridonoff messaged Medvedev within hours after Russia saw its largest nationwide demonstrations in years, underscored by calls from protesters for the prime minister to resign amid corruption allegations.

"Not bad, I was skiing" he replied on his damedvedev handle without mentioning where, adding a smiley with its tongue hanging out for good measure.

Medvedev's comments attracted a wealth of responses on social media, with one Twitter user nicknamed Andrei Sokolov suggesting that "He's probably training to run away."

Another user created a combo photo showing the portraits of Medvedev and Tsar Nicolas II with the dates 2017 and 1917 -- referring to the revolution that overthrew Russia's last monarch 100 years ago.

Moscow police say about 500 people were detained during the protests in the capital, while OVD-Info, a nongovernmental organization that tracks such incidents, put the number at 1,030.



Those arrested during the protests included opposition leader Aleksei Navalny, who had called for the nationwide marches after his anticorruption group released a report on March 2 accusing Medvedev of using charities and NGOs to collect donations from tycoons and state banks and using the funds to buy expensive assets.

Navalny was sentenced on March 27 to 15 days' imprisonment for disobeying police.

WATCH: Aleksei Navalny's Report On Dmitry Medvedev's Assets

Medvedev has not personally responded to the allegations of corruption lodged by Navalny's group, although his spokeswoman has called them "propaganda attacks."

Medvedev has faced unusual pressure over the accusations that the prime minister used an array of charity and nonprofit organizations to collect donations from oligarchs and state banks, and then redirected the funds to purchase pricey assets.

Communist lawmakers, who seldom stray too far from the Kremlin line on important issues, on March 24 submitted a formal request to the State Duma, the lower house of parliament, to investigate the claims.

Earlier, Communist lawmaker Valery Rashkin appealed to federal investigators to probe the allegations that Navalny made against Medvedev.

Medvedev was recently mocked online after President Vladimir Putin said on March 14 that the prime minister had gone down with the flu, apparently explaining why he had missed several government meetings.

After Medvedev on March 23 denied he had actually been ill, social media networks poked fun at him for having finally challenged the president.

A 26-year-old Serb has been arrested after allegedly trying to blackmail Hollywood studio 20th Century Fox through a local distributor by threatening to release a copy of The Boss Baby.

A 26-year-old Serb who worshipped superheroes and whose father was once the head of Serbia's antiterrorist service has been arrested after allegedly trying to blackmail Hollywood studio 20th Century Fox through a local distributor by threatening to release a copy of The Boss Baby, the latest animated film from Steven Spielberg's Dreamworks studios, before its world premiere.

Momcilo Dinovic reportedly obtained a copy of the movie and demanded more than $25,000 worth of bitcoin, the electronic currency, or he would post the film online before its official release on March 31, RFE/RL's Balkan Service reports.

According to the Serbian Interior Ministry, Dinovic received the equivalent of about $11,000 in bitcoin from the companies and was waiting for more when he was detained by police in Belgrade on March 14.

Police have not said how Dinovic, an IT expert, came to possess the film, a star-studded computer animation featuring Alec Baldwin, Steve Buscemi, Lisa Kudrow, Tobey Maguire, and Jimmy Kimmel.

But screenwriter and film critic Aleksandar Radivojevic noted that "at a time when everything is done over the Internet, things like this can easily leak out or can be hacked."

If found guilty of extortion, Dinovic faces a prison sentence of between three and 12 years.

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About This Blog

Written by RFE/RL editors and correspondents, Transmission serves up news, comment, and the odd silly dictator story. While our primary concern is with foreign policy, Transmission is also a place for the ideas -- some serious, some irreverent -- that bubble up from our bureaus. The name recognizes RFE/RL's role as a surrogate broadcaster to places without free media. You can write us at transmission+rferl.org

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