Moscow, Jan 24 (EFE).- Russian authorities arrested 3,296 people during protests to support jailed opposition leader Alexei Navalny, the OVD-info monitor group said on Sunday.
Activists associated with Navalny had given a call for protests across Russia on Saturday after police arrested him last week when he returned to Moscow from Germany, where he underwent treatment for poisoning with a nerve agent.
Police arrested 1,294 people in Moscow, where protesters and cops clashed violently and another 489 were detained in St. Petersburg, said the group that monitors politically-motivated arrests and persecutions in Russia.
Among those detained is one of Navalny’s main allies, politician and lawyer for the Anti-Corruption Fund (FBK), Liubov Sobol.
Sobol, one of the most visible faces on Navalny’s team, was forcibly taken away by riot police officers when she was making statements to the media.
Russian authorities had warned that they would take action against anyone attending unauthorized marches.
The protesters demanded Navalny’s release from jail and the resignation of Russian President Vladimir Putin – blamed for poisoning the opposition leader. The Kremlin has denied the allegations.
Navalny is awaiting trial for allegedly violating the conditions of a suspended sentence handed down against him in 2014. He faces more than three years in prison for the alleged violation.
He has been in custody since he was detained upon his return to Russia last week.
He was in Germany after he was poisoned with a Novichok nerve agent in an assassination attempt that he claimed was ordered by Putin.
Unlike previous protests, which barely spread beyond the two major Russian cities, demonstrations took place throughout the country, with the most active ones staged in Novosibirsk, Voronezh, Nizhny Novgorod, Kazan, and Khabarovsk.
Navalny’s team described the demonstrations as the biggest in Russia’s modern history.
The supporters of the opposition leader said the nationwide protest had shown Putin their strength.
They also called for new demonstrations over the next weekend.
The protests on Saturday signified a victory of courage and spirit over state terrorism, the opponents said.
Ahead of the protests, Navalny released a video in which Putin is accused of receiving from his friends “the most expensive palace in the world” on the shores of the Black Sea. Putin’s government has dismissed the accusation.
Navalny’s team urged his supporters not to be intimidated by the “propagandists” of government. They promised to reimburse the fines imposed by the authorities.
In anti-corruption protests convened by Navalny on June 12, 2017, a total of 1,769 people were arrested by police in more than 150 cities throughout Russia, news web portal Meduza said. EFE