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Second Moscow opposition protest leads to arrests of 31 people

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At least 31 people have been arrested during opposition protests in Moscow, the second Sunday in succession to see such demonstrations.

Last week, at least 1,000 people were held during protests in Moscow, reportedly the largest in five years.

The opposition has called for the resignation of Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev over corruption allegations.

A smaller group of about 100 people began marching through Moscow on Sunday, but were blocked by police.

While police said 31 people had been detained for “breaches of public order”, OVD-Info, a website monitoring detentions, said 56 people including four minors were arrested.

Those who organised the protest via social media are now facing an investigation.

Last Sunday’s demonstrations in Moscow and across the country were prompted by main opposition leader Alexei Navalny, who was later arrested.

Police said 500 people were held, but OVD-Info said at least 1,000 people were arrested in Moscow alone.

Mr Navalny had published reports claiming that Mr Medvedev controlled mansions, yachts and vineyards – a fortune that far outstripped his official salary.

The prime minister’s spokeswoman called the allegations “propagandistic attacks”, but the prime minister himself has not commented on the claims.

Alexei Navalny has announced his intention to run for president in 2018 against Vladimir Putin. But he is barred from doing so after being found guilty in a case he said was politicised.

Mr Navalny was sentenced to 15 days in prison for his role in last Sunday’s demonstrations. His spokesman said on Twitter that he had nothing to do with the new protest.

Organisers told news agencies that they had planned to march towards the Kremlin on Sunday when they were stopped by police.

Witnesses said police had detained people photographed at the previous rally. “You could see they were acting in a targeted way,” protester Natalya Ponomarenko said.

Russia’s Interfax news agency reported that about 400 people had taken part in an authorised anti-corruption rally in the Siberian city of Novosibirsk.

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Military patrols Ecuador’s capital as clashes resume and many defy curfew

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Armored military vehicles patrolled the streets of Ecuador’s capital, Quito, on Sunday after police and protesters clashed and many residents defied a curfew imposed by President Lenin Moreno in a bid to quell unrest triggered by fuel subsidy cuts.

Ecuadoreans posted videos on social media of burning road blockades and standoffs between crowds and security forces in downtown Quito ahead of the first round of talks aimed at ending 11 days of unrest.

The interior minister said a group of vandals had again set fire to the comptroller’s office and that some 500 people had defied police barriers in the city.

The unrest was the worst in the small South American country in more than a decade and the latest flashpoint of opposition to the International Monetary Fund in Latin America. Moreno has cast the dispute as a battle between Venezuela and other left-leaning forces and more market-friendly ideologies.

Nearly 60 roads in the city were closed, the municipal government said, without elaborating.

“Blocking roads is punishable by law and even more so during a curfew,” said councilman Bernardo Abad.

Indigenous protesters vowed to continue protests across the country until Moreno reinstates fuel subsidies, a sign that a potential breakthrough in the dispute announced on Saturday might fade under the government crackdown.

The first round of talks between indigenous leaders and the government was set to begin at 3 p.m. (2000 GMT) in Quito, although no announcement had been made yet on who would take part or where exactly it would be held.

Moreno signed a $4.2 billion deal with the IMF earlier this year, angering many of his former supporters who voted for him as the left-leaning successor of his former ally, Rafael Correa.

Moreno has defended his decision last week to slash fuel subsidies as a key part of his bid to clean up the country’s finances, and denies it was required by the IMF.

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Algerians protest against proposed energy law

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Hundreds of Algerians protested in front of parliament on Sunday against proposed changes to the energy law that they say the caretaker government has no right to pass.

The draft law was agreed by the cabinet on Sunday, interim president Abdelkader Bensalah was quoted by state media as saying. It must still be approved by parliament.

Protesters said the law was draw up by the caretaker government to secure support of Western countries in a standoff over mass protests that have rocked Algeria for months. The government did not immediately comment.

“The draft will allow us to start deep reforms in the energy sector and implement a development plan for Sonatrach,” Bensalah said, referring to Algeria’s national energy company.

The law is aimed at attracting foreign investors to help Algeria strengthen its energy output and improve revenues using their superior technology, but would maintain a 49% limit on foreign ownership if passed into law by parliament.

Sonatrach has met several major international oil companies in recent months, including Exxon Mobil and Chevron.

“The current tax system does not allow Sonatrach to make new discoveries,” Mustapha Hanifi, the hydrocarbons director at the energy ministry, said at a conference on Sunday.

“We need to discover more oil and gas to ensure the country’s energy security and its revenues,” he added.

Algeria’s economy and state revenues are highly dependent on the energy sector, and foreign currency reserves have more than halved since oil prices began to drop in 2014.

The weekly mass protests since February have toppled veteran leader Abdelaziz Bouteflika and forced the authorities to detain many senior officials on corruption charges.

The army, which has emerged as the strongest power in Algeria since Bouteflika stepped down in April, hopes a presidential election panned for Dec. 12 will help quell the protests.

But demonstrators have said the vote cannot be free or fair if the military and senior officials tied to Bouteflika retain political power.

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