Police detain dozens in Russia’s Alexei Navalny protests

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Dozens of people have been detained as police try to stop nationwide protests in Russia in support of jailed opposition politician Alexei Navalny.

Mr Navalny, President Vladimir Putin’s most high-profile critic, called for protests after his arrest last weekend.

He was detained last Sunday after he flew back to Moscow from Berlin, where he had been recovering from a near-fatal nerve agent attack in Russia last

August.

On his return, he was immediately taken into custody and found guilty of violating parole conditions. He says it is a trumped-up case designed to silence him, and called on his supporters to protest.

Several of Mr Navalny’s close aides including his spokeswoman, Kira Yarmysh have also been detained in the run up to Saturday’s protests.

Prior to the protests, Russian authorities had promised a tough crackdown, with police saying any unauthorised demonstrations and provocations will be “immediately suppressed”.

OVD Info, an independent NGO that monitors rallies, said that more than 200 people have been detained so far in 30 cities across the country.

Meanwhile, there were reports of disruption to mobile phone and internet coverage in Russia on Saturday – though it is not known if this is related to the protests.

The social media app TikTok, which is popular among teenagers, had been flooded with videos from Russians promoting Saturday’s protests and viral messages about Mr Navalny.

Mr Navalny is an anti-corruption campaigner and the most prominent face of Russian opposition to President Vladimir Putin.

He attempted to stand in the 2018 presidential race, but was barred because of an embezzlement conviction that he says was politically motivated.

Russia has come under pressure from the US and EU to release Mr Navalny after his arrest last weekend when he returned to the country for the first time since his poisoning.

 

Olajumoke Adeleke

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