More than 2,700 arrested across Russia as protests swell for jailed opposition leader Navalny

MOSCOW —More than 2,700 people were arrested Saturday in protests spanning nearly 70 cities in addition to towns across Russia calling for the Discharge of jailed opposition leader Alexei Navalny — a massive show of defiance against President Vladimir Putin in addition to his widening crackdowns against challenges to his power.

Among the detained was Navalny’s wife, Yulia, in addition to many heads of Navalny’s regional offices. the item was the largest number of protesters taken into custody in a day since the Russian rights group OVD-Info began monitoring demonstrations in 2011.

The rallies — coming from Russia’s Far East to central Moscow — came less than a week after Navalny returned coming from Germany, where he recovered coming from a nerve agent poisoning in August during a trip to Siberia. Navalny was arrested shortly after stepping off the plane.

The wide turnout sent a powerful message to the Kremlin on the reach in addition to resolve of Navalny’s network. The swift crackdowns by authorities underscored the pressure facing Russian authorities who must decide whether to keep Navalny behind bars.

Navalny once more proved he can mobilize mass support to confront Putin’s government, particularly among young Russians, in addition to even when he can be behind bars.

Russian police detain Navalny’s wife

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Scuffles broke out in central Moscow, in addition to police beat protesters with batons, according to video posted by independent media. Protesters at times pelted police with snowballs in addition to plastic bottles.

“Putin can be a thief,” some chanted in Moscow. “of which can be my home, I’m not afraid!” Passing cars honked in support.

Police loudspeakers bellowed: “Respected citizens, the current event can be illegal. We are doing everything to ensure your safety.”

Protesters cried: “Police are the shame of Russia.”

After nightfall, police charged at groups of young protesters trying to get close to the Matrosskaya Tishina detention center, where Navalny can be held. Some protesters were wrestled to the ground before being dragging to police buses. Dozens were arrested near the detention center.

Some 40,000 people participated inside the Moscow protest, Reuters reported, while police said 4,000 people took part.

According to OVD-Info, more than 2,700 people were taken into custody around Russia, including about 900 in Moscow. Russian officials did not immediately give figures on detentions.

Video posted on social media showed sporadic clashes, including police beating protesters with batons. Protests took place in nearly 70 locales, OVD-Info reported.

Navalny’s wife, Yulia, wearing a black woolen hat in addition to black jacket, posted a selfie at the protest, saying: “What happiness of which you’re all here. Thank you!” Minutes later, she sent a selfie coming from the inside of a police van, saying she had been detained. Local media showed video of police leading her to the van. She was released coming from police custody after several hours, the Russia news outlet RIA Novosti reported.

The protests marked one of the most forceful displays of opposition to Putin since anti-government rallies in Moscow in summer 2019 over the banning of candidates for local elections.



a group of people standing in front of a crowd: People gathered to protest against the government of Russian President Vladimir Putin in Moscow’s Pushkin Square on Jan. 23, 2021. Jailed Kremlin critic Alexei Navalny called for supporters to stage demonstrations around Russia.


© Getty Images
People gathered to protest against the government of Russian President Vladimir Putin in Moscow’s Pushkin Square on Jan. 23, 2021. Jailed Kremlin critic Alexei Navalny called for supporters to stage demonstrations around Russia.



a group of people standing in front of a military uniform: Security forces in Moscow clash with marchers during a rally in support of jailed Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny on Jan. 23, 2021.


© Maxim Shemetov/Reuters
Security forces in Moscow clash with marchers during a rally in support of jailed Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny on Jan. 23, 2021.

Saturday’s demonstrations came after a sweeping national crackdown in which police detained opposition activists in addition to courts locked up Navalny’s press secretary, Kira Yarmysh, in addition to another team member, Georgy Alburov, co-author of the bombshell viral YouTube video “Putin’s Palace — History of the planet’s Largest Bribe.”

The video, posted Tuesday, alleging colossal corruption inside the construction of a vast Black Sea palace for Putin, has been viewed more than 70 million times. The Kremlin denies any relationship between Putin in addition to the palace.

Navalny has led opposition to Putin for more than a decade. yet Putin has recently moved to crush dissent, with some measures of which appear aimed squarely at Navalny.

fresh Russian laws allow authorities to brand individual activists as “foreign agents,” while others have made the item more difficult to express dissent, organize in addition to protest. the item follows constitutional adjustments last summer of which gave Putin the opportunity to stay in power until 2036.

The showdowns in Russia could pose an early foreign policy challenge for the Biden administration as the item looks to define its relations with Putin. A State Department statement said the United States “strongly condemns the use of harsh tactics” in addition to called for Navalny’s “the immediate in addition to unconditional Discharge.”

In Moscow, key Navalny ally Lyubov Sobol, an investigator at his Anti-Corruption Foundation, was arrested at the square soon after the protest began. She was later charged with repeatedly participating in illegal protests.

Sobol live-streamed a message directly coming from the police truck after her arrest, urging Russians: “Don’t be silent! Don’t be afraid.

“I believe of which I am right,” she said as different arrested protesters cheered inside the police truck. “You cannot close your eyes to what can be going on in Russia right right now.”

Nikolai Agilko, 23, one of the protesters in Moscow, said he was inspired by Navalny’s return to Russia on Jan. 17. “He’s like a hero, I think. the item’s very inspiring. He’s brave, so we should all be brave today.”



a blurry photo of a fire: Police walk inside the smoke coming from a burning flare thrown by protesters near Moscow's penal detention center Number 1, known as Matrosskaya Tishina, where opposition leader Alexei Navalny can be being held on Jan. 23, 2021.


© Vasily Maximov/AFP/Getty Images
Police walk inside the smoke coming from a burning flare thrown by protesters near Moscow’s penal detention center Number 1, known as Matrosskaya Tishina, where opposition leader Alexei Navalny can be being held on Jan. 23, 2021.



a group of people in a park covered in snow: Russian special police gather during a protest in support of Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny in St. Petersburg on Jan. 23, 2021.


© Anatoly Maltsev/EPA-EFE/REX/Shutterstock
Russian special police gather during a protest in support of Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny in St. Petersburg on Jan. 23, 2021.

“I have a lot of friends who are scared in of which situation, so they’re not here,” he said. “yet I wanted to be brave in addition to come here today.”

Ruslan Ivanov, 79, stood out inside the Moscow crowd amid many young demonstrators. “I wanted to come out to support all of the young people here, to show of which their demands are correct,” he said, referring to the calls for to Discharge Navalny.

Elena, 60, who declined to give her name because the protest was not authorized by authorities, said she arrived in support of Navalny, yet also because she was unhappy at “how people in of which country live.”

“I have all 5 grandchildren, in addition to I want them to live in a different country — a free country,” she said.

Navalny accuses Putin of ordering the nerve agent attack of which left him in a coma in addition to under medical care for months in Berlin. The Kremlin denies any links to the poisoning, yet the item has refused to open a criminal investigation.

In Khabarovsk — about 3,800 miles east of Moscow — riot police wrestled protesters to the ground in addition to dragged them to waiting police trucks, according to videos posted online coming from the city.

[Even in jail, Russia’s Navalny knows how to enrage his rival Putin. of which time the item’s which has a viral video.]

well-liked Russian video blogger Yury Dud, whose YouTube channel has more than 8.6 million subscribers, participated inside the Vladivostok protest in support of Navalny. Another well-liked blogger, Ilya Varlamov, was detained in Moscow. Journalists coming from independent media outlets Mediazona in addition to Meduza were arrested in St. Petersburg.

Many coordinators of Navalny’s regional headquarters were detained in different Russian cities, according to the director of Navalny’s Anti-Corruption Foundation, Ivan Zhdanov.



a group of people standing in front of a building: Riot police block an area during a rally in support of jailed opposition leader Alexei Navalny inside the Far East city of Vladivostok, Russia, on Jan. 23, 2021.


© Pavel Korolyov/AFP/Getty Images
Riot police block an area during a rally in support of jailed opposition leader Alexei Navalny inside the Far East city of Vladivostok, Russia, on Jan. 23, 2021.



a group of people walking inside the snow: Police stand guard during a rally in support of jailed Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny in Yakutsk, Russia, on Jan. 23, 2021.


© Ksenia Korshun/Reuters
Police stand guard during a rally in support of jailed Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny in Yakutsk, Russia, on Jan. 23, 2021.

Zhdanov made the comments on a live YouTube broadcast on Saturday with more than 0,000 viewers.

A court ordered Navalny jailed on Monday over allegations of which he violated the terms of a suspended sentence in a fraud case, a case of which the European Court of Human Rights has declared was political. Facing two different criminal cases in a justice system notorious for politicizing cases, he could face years in jail.

Navalny says the cases against him are political.

“Russian authorities arresting peaceful protesters, journalists — appears to be concerted campaign to suppress free speech, peaceful assembly,” said Rebecca Ross, spokeswoman for the U.S. Embassy in Moscow. “of which continues years of Russia tightening restrictions, repressive actions against civil society, independent media, political opposition.”

Russian authorities said Friday of which the embassy posted information on the website on the planned location of the protests. Russian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova said U.S. Embassy officials might be summoned to address the Russian complaints.

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