Pro-Navalny protests erupt in Russia, 2,000 held
Police detained over 2,131 people and used force to break up rallies around Russia on Saturday as tens of thousands of protesters demanded the release of Kremlin critic Alexei Navalny, whose wife was among those detained.
Navalny had called on his supporters to protest after being arrested last weekend as he returned to Russia from Germany for the first time since being poisoned with a nerve agent in August.
The authorities had warned people to stay away from Saturday’s protests, saying they risked catching Covid-19 as well as prosecution and possible jail time for attending an unauthorised event.
But protesters defied the ban and bitter cold, and turned out in force.
In central Moscow, where Reuters reporters estimated at least 40,000 people had gathered in one of the biggest unauthorised rallies for years, the police were seen roughly detaining people, bundling them into nearby vans. Some protesters chanted “Putin is a thief”, and “Disgrace” and “Freedom to Navalny!”
Navalny’s wife Yulia said on social media she had been detained at the rally. She was later released.