AFP, Moscow : In a court on the outskirts of Moscow, fellow students of Yegor Zhukov started weeping as he delivered a speech via a video link from jail. "I don't know if I'll become free myself," he said, "but Russia definitely will." The 21-year-old is among a group of young protesters with bright futures risking criminal convictions and life-changing jail terms as Russia attempts to quell dissent. Zhukov is the most prominent among them thanks to his popular YouTube clips where he criticises President Vladimir Putin's regime and backs the anti-corruption campaign of opposition leader Alexei Navalny. In recent weeks tens of thousands of protesters have taken to the streets of Moscow after authorities blocked Navalny's allies from running in next month's election for the city parliament. Police have arrested around 3,000 people at the biggest demonstrations the country has seen in years, but most were released shortly after. However, around 10 remain in pre-trial detention and face up to eight years in jail for participating in what prosecutors call "mass disorder". Several others are facing related charges such as attacking police.
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