Kremlin says planned Russian opposition protest on Saturday is illegal

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Former Russian tycoon Mikhail Khodorkovsky speaks during a Reuters Newsmaker event at Canary Wharf in London

MOSCOW (Reuters) – The Kremlin said on Thursday that an opposition protest planned for Saturday was illegal and police would deal with anyone who showed up accordingly.

The Open Russia foundation, an organization set up by Kremlin critic Mikhail Khodorkovsky, has called for big anti-government protests on Saturday ahead of a presidential election next year.

“We are still hearing calls for illegal action,” Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov told reporters on a conference call.

“This will naturally lead to an absolutely lawful reaction from the authorities in accordance with current legislation.”

Open Russia hopes the protest will put pressure on Vladimir Putin, who is expected to run for what would be a fourth presidential term next year, to leave politics.

In a statement on Wednesday, the General Prosecutor’s Office said it had decided that the activity of the Open Russia foundation, which it called a British organization, was “undesirable” in Russia.

(Reporting by Dmitry Solovyov; Editing by Andrew Osborn)

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