Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny detained ahead of protests

Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny detained ahead of protests

He was jailed for 15 days after the March protests.

Russian opposition leader Alexey Navalny has been reportedly detained by authorities in Russia as protesters - engaged in a day of nationwide demonstrations - braced for clashes in Moscow on Monday. Spicer called on the Russian government to immediately release all peaceful protesters.

Authorities in Moscow, the location of what is expected to be the largest protest, authorized a venue well away from the city center.

TRT World's Julia Lyubova reports from Moscow.

More than 700 people were arrested in Moscow, while in St Petersburg, about 500 were forced into police buses at an unsanctioned rally that drew up to 10,000 people.

That is likely to embolden him to call for more protests and keep Putin, who is expected to run for and win re-election next year, under rare domestic pressure.

The Moscow protest was the most prominent in a string of more than 100 rallies in cities and towns stretching through all 11 of Russia's time zones — from the Pacific to the European enclave of Kaliningrad — with many denouncing President Vladimir Putin. "People are not afraid". An opposition-leaning monitoring group, OVD-Info, reported far higher figures for Moscow and estimated that the total number of arrested across Russian Federation may be over 1,000.

Instead, he urged demonstrators to gather on Tverskaya Street, a main Moscow avenue that was closed to traffic for a celebration of the national Russia Day holiday that included people dressed up in various costumes from the country's history.

Navalny's wife, Yulia, said on his Twitter feed that he was arrested about a half-hour before the demonstration was to begin. Navalny was taken to court Monday evening and sentenced to 30 days in jail shortly after midnight for repeated violations of the law on public gatherings.

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In Moscow, thousands of angry protesters held an unsanctioned rally on the capital's main street with riot police snatching hundreds of protesters from the crowd at random.

Police also detained small numbers of protesters as they were exiting a metro station ahead of the rally.

Moscow authorities had initially authorised a venue for Monday's protest away from the city centre. The General Prosecutor's Office had warned that a protest there would be illegal.

Three 16-year-old girls brought sheets of paper to the Moscow protest and sat on the pavement to write the articles of the Russian Constitution on them; a nearby group of teenagers climbed atop of a tent with posters saying, "Corruption kills the future". "It's been unchanged for the last 17 years".

After the detentions, the protest appeared to be breaking up, but some demonstrators remained.

For now, polls suggest Navalny has scant chance of unseating Putin, who enjoys high ratings. It remains unclear too whether the Kremlin will let Navalny run for the presidency.

A video he made accusing Medvedev of living far beyond his means has garnered over 22 million online views to date.

"I want to live in a modern democratic state and I want our taxes to be converted into roads, schools and hospitals, not into yachts, palaces and vineyards."
But Monday's protests could demonstrate that it has significant support throughout the vast country.

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