Moscow, Apr 22 (EFE).- At least 1,770 people have been arrested after supporters of ailing Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny defied authorities to stage nationwide protests on Wednesday.
The OVD-Info portal, which specializes in monitoring arrests and defending detainees, said Thursday that more detentions were expected.
Navalny, who has been on hunger strike since March 31, is being held in a prison camp, where his health has been rapidly deteriorating, according to the 44-year-old’s team.
Most of the arrests (805) took place in St. Petersburg, the country’s second largest city, followed by Ufa, capital of Bashkiria, (87) and the Black Sea resort of Sochi (50). In Moscow, at least 29 people are reported to have been arrested.
The protests called by the opposition were held from Vladivostok, in Russia’s Far East, to the Baltic Sea in Europe. The largest rally was in Moscow, which was attended by several thousand people.
According to Russian authorities, more than 14,000 people attended the demonstrations across the sprawling nation, including 6,500 in Moscow and 4,500 in St. Petersburg, but Navalny’s team estimates more than 10 times that number turned out in support of the opposition leader.
“Today we saw hundreds of thousands of wonderful people all over Russia and the world. We all demand that Navalny be treated by doctors and released,” his team said Wednesday night.
In mid-January, more than 10,000 people were detained during pro-Navalny protests held after the opposition figure was arrested upon returning from Germany, where he had received specialist medical treatment.
The lawyer and activist almost lost his life when he was poisoned by the military-grade nerve agent Novichok while on a campaign trail in August last year. He claims Russian president Vladimir Putin ordered the attack.
Since his imprisonment, Navalny has been complaining of back problems, fever and cough.