MOSCOU: The Kremlin on Monday condemned anti-corruption protests organised by opposition activist Alexei Navalny as a "provocation" and claimed minors were offered money in case they were arrested while demonstrating.
"Essentially what we saw yesterday in several places -- probably especially in Moscow -- is a provocation and a lie," Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov told reporters of Sunday's protests in Russian cities, in which more than 1,000 people were arrested.
He said youths had been "promised financial rewards in the event of their detention by law enforcement agencies" during the protests.
He did not give a source for this information when asked by journalists, while describing it as a "fact".
Thousands of people rallied in Moscow and other Russian cities Sunday in protests organised by Navalny, a lawyer turned Kremlin critic and activist who has announced his 2018 presidential bid.
Navalny urged supporters to take to the streets in protest after his team published a report alleging that Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev controlled a vast property empire through a net of obscure foundations.
More than a thousand people were detained on Sunday in Moscow and hundreds more in other cities across Russia after most municipal authorities refused to grant permission for the protests.
Peskov said without mentioning Navalny by name that the Kremlin is worried that "some people will continue using (politically) active people... to their own ends, calling them to illegal and unauthorised actions."
Asked what the Kremlin thinks about the scale of protests -- by far the biggest to rock Russia in years -- Peskov said he "neither overestimates nor underestimates this scale."