Russian police force way into opposition leader Navalny's office, opposition TV says

Aaron Brown
January 29, 2018

Sizable gatherings, from a few dozen to several hundred, reportedly cropped up around Russian Federation after Navalny called for protests.

They are calling on voters to boycott what they say is a rigged presidential election on March 18th which Vladimir Putin is predicted to win easily.

The account in Navalny's name later posted footage of his arrest, telling supporters: "The detention of one person is meaningless if there are many of us".

Russia's election commission in December formally banned Mr Navalny from taking part in the election, where Mr Putin will nearly certainly win another six-year term in power and extend his 18-year rule. Mr Navalny was arrested and imprisoned for 15 days following the first protest on 5 December, but emerged to speak at the biggest of the post-election rallies in Moscow on 24 December, attended by as many as 120,000 people.

Roman Rubanov, director of Navalny's Anti-Corruption Foundation, wrote on Twitter on Sunday morning that the police accused one of the show presenters, Dimitry Nizovtsev, of having a bomb in his phone.

He had called on his supporters to rally in more than 100 cities in a bid to put more pressure on the Kremlin after a series of mass protests a year ago. "This doesn't mean anything ... you didn't come out for me, but for your future".

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Around 90 people were detained across the country, according to OVD-Info, an independent group which monitors crackdowns on demonstrations. Navalny and his supporters claim the charges were politically motivated.

Earlier in the day opposition supporters protested in far eastern Russia and Siberia, including in the northern city of Yakutsk where Russians rallied despite temperatures of around minus 45°C. "We've already endured this for 18 years", reported the Guardian.

However, the main protests in Moscow and St. Petersburg were not agreed with the authorities. "Come to Tverskaya (Street)", the 41-year-old tweeted after his arrest - just moments after he arrived at Pushkinskaya Square.

Sunday's turnout paled in comparison to last year's rallies when tens of thousands rallied against corruption among Russia's elite in March and June 2017.

The rally was called to protest the upcoming polls which are expected to extend President Putin's term to 2024.

As a police announcement intoned that walkways had to be kept clear, protesters shouted, "Putin's War", "Protest" and "Boycott". "I try to change our life - our life in Russian Federation, I mean".

Other reports by Free-Prsite

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