At least 35 Russians were detained on Saturday (January 23) in the Far Eastern city of Vladivostok at a rally for the release of the arrested Kremlin critic Alexei Navalny, according to OVD Info monitoring group.
Supporters of jailed Kremlin critic Alexei Navalny took to the streets in Russia’s Far East on Saturday to demand his release on a day of nationwide protests that authorities have declared illegal and vowed to break up.
Navalny called on his supporters to protest after being arrested last weekend when he returned to Moscow for the first time after being poisoned in August with a military-grade nerve agent. Navalny had been treated in Germany.
Video footage from Vladivostok showed riot police chasing a group of protesters down the street, while demonstrators in Khabarovsk, braving temperatures of around -14 degrees Celsius (7 degrees Fahrenheit), chanted “Shame!” and “Bandits!”
Navalny, an ex-lawyer who has accused President Vladimir Putin of ordering his murder, could face years in jail over legal cases that he calls trumped up. Putin has denied involvement.
Navalny’s supporters are hoping they can produce a show of anti-Kremlin street support despite winter conditions and the coronavirus pandemic to pressure the authorities into freeing him.
The West has told Moscow to let him go, sparking new tensions in already strained Russia ties as U.S. President Joe Biden launches his administration.