Over 1,400 arrested after Putin critic Navalny jailed in Russia

Moscow, Feb 3 (efe-epa).- Russian police have arrested more than 1,400 people from various places during overnight protests to support jailed Kremlin critic Alexey Navalny, a rights monitoring group said on Wednesday.

The OVD-Info that keeps track of political persecutions in Russia said the police detained 1,145 protesters from Moscow streets.

Nearly 250 were arrested in St Petersburg, Russia’s second-largest city. More than a dozen people were detained from several other places.

Images published on social media channels show riot police using batons to disperse the protesters in Moscow.

Most of the arrested were supporters of Navalny, although several journalists were also detained, Russian monitoring group OVD-Info reported.

Protests erupted across the country after Navalny, held by Russian authorities since mid-January, was sentenced to three-and-a-half years in prison on Tuesday.

A judge imposed a suspended sentence from 2014 that the European Court of Human Rights has said was arbitrary.

The judge ruled that Navalny violated the terms of his probation while in Germany.

As soon as he was convicted, Navalny called on his supporters to protest near the Kremlin.

The sentencing sparked strong criticism from the United States, Germany, and the United Kingdom, condemning the court verdict and demanding the immediate release of Navalny.

Navalny was arrested on Jan.17 when he returned to Russia from Germany after months of recovering from a Novichok nerve agent poisoning that almost claimed his life.

The 44-year-old has accused Russian President Vladimir Putin of being implicated in the attack.

Navalny arrived at the court with his lawyer, Olga Mikhailova, and wife, Yulia.

His arrest last month sparked protests in Russia, and over 5,600 people were arrested during a demonstration on Sunday, according to OVD-Info.

The Moscow authorities have decided to close several metro stations, streets, and squares of the city to prevent people from gathering.

The Kremlin has rejected criticism by the west over Navalni’s arrest and the disproportionate use of force by police against protesters on Jan.23 and 31 in support of the opposition leader.

Almost 10,000 people were arrested during the weekend protests last month. EFE-EPA


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