Navalny Thousands join fresh protests across Russia
Thousands of Russians have been taking part in unauthorised protests to demand the release of the jailed opposition leader Alexei Navalny.
More than 3,000 people have been detained, a monitoring group says. In Moscow police closed metro stations and blocked off the city centre.
Mr Navalny was jailed on his return to Russia after recovering from an attempt to kill him with a nerve agent.
He blames the security services for the attack but the Kremlin denies this.
The opposition figure had only just arrived from Berlin, where he spent months recovering from the near-fatal incident.
Russian authorities say Mr Navalny was supposed to report to police regularly because of a suspended sentence for embezzlement.
Mr Navalny has denounced his detention as “blatantly illegal”, saying the authorities had allowed him to travel to Berlin for treatment for the Novichok poisoning, which happened in Russia last August.
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In Moscow the BBC’s Sarah Rainsford says protesters played cat-and-mouse with police, getting up close to officers before retreating to safety. Police snatch squads pulled some protesters through the lines of riot shields. Footage showed a stream of people being escorted on to buses by riot police.
Protesters then attempted to reach the Matrosskaya Tishina prison where Mr Navalny is being held.
Mr Navalny’s wife Yulia Navalnaya is among those detained at Sunday’s protest, Mr Navalny’s team says. Earlier she posted a picture of herself on the way to the rally.
Police say the protests are illegal, while Russian authorities have warned that the demonstrations could spread the coronavirus.
A 40-year-old protester in Moscow told Reuters she had attended despite having a panic attack the night before over the possible repercussions she could face for taking part.
“I understand that I live in a totally lawless state. In a police state, with no independent courts. In a country ruled by corruption. I would like to live differently,” she said.
In St Petersburg, Mr Putin’s home city, a crowd gathered in a central square and chanted: “Down with the Tsar.”