Alexei Navalny: Dozens detained in protests in eastern Russia

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Dozens of people have been detained as a string of protests begins across Russia in support of jailed opposition politician Alexei Navalny.

Police have broken up demonstrations in the eastern Khabarovsk region, amid stern warnings for people to stay home.

Several of Mr Navalny’s close aides, including a spokeswoman and one of his lawyers, were detained in the run up to Saturday’s protests.

Mr Navalny is Russian leader Vladimir Putin’s most high-profile critic.

His supporters flooded social media with calls to rally at protests expected later in up to 60 Russian cities.

He was arrested last Sunday after he flew back to Moscow from Berlin, where he had been recovering from a near-fatal nerve agent attack in Russia last August.

On his return, he was immediately taken into custody and found guilty of violating parole conditions. He says it is a trumped-up case designed to silence him, and called on his supporters to protest.

What’s happened so far?

Russia’s Far East saw some of the first protests on Saturday, but reports conflict over how many of Mr Navalny’s supporters turned up.

One independent news source, Sota, said at least 3,000 people had joined a demonstration in the city of Vladivostok but local authorities there put the figure at 500.

Video footage from the city showed riot police chasing a group of protesters down the street, Reuters reports.

Meanwhile protesters braved temperatures of -50C (-58F) in the Siberian city of Yakutsk.

OVD Info, an independent NGO that monitors rallies, said 48 people had been detained across the country by police so far, including 13 in Khabarovsk.

Russian authorities have vowed a tough crackdown, with police saying any unauthorised demonstrations and provocations will be “immediately suppressed”.

Unauthorised rallies are planned in more than 60 cities across the country, with one in Moscow’s central Pushkin Square due to start at 14:00 local time (11:00 GMT).

Police have erected hundreds of metal barriers around the square in a bid to thwart any demonstration attempts.

Mr Navalny’s wife Yulia, who travelled back to Russia with him from Germany, said she would join the Moscow demonstration “for myself, for him, for our children, for the values and the ideals that we share”.

The social media app TikTok, which is popular among teenagers, has been flooded with videos from Russians promoting Saturday’s protests and viral messages about Mr Navalny.

Russia’s education ministry has told parents not to allow their children to attend any demonstrations.

BBC

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