Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny has been released from detention after he was arrested on Saturday amid widespread protests against President Vladimir Putin. Navalny was detained in Moscow where he was attending a demonstration organised by him against the inauguration of the Russian president. Navalny, who has been jailed in the past for organising unauthorised rallies, had called for people critical of Putin's leadership to take to the streets in advance of the president's inauguration for a fourth term on Monday. According to OVD-info, a human rights monitor, about 1,600 people had been detained nationwide during Saturday's protests. More than 700 of those arrests made were in Moscow.
MOSCOW – In a challenge to President Vladimir Putin on his 65th birthday, protesters rallied across Russia on Saturday, heeding opposition leader Alexei Navalny's call to pressure authorities into letting him enter the presidential race. Police allowed demonstrators in Moscow to rally near the Kremlin in an apparent desire to avoid marring Putin's birthday with a crackdown. A bigger rally in St. Petersburg, Putin's hometown, was disbanded by police after protesters blocked traffic and attempted to break through police cordons. The rallies came as Navalny himself is serving a 20-day jail term for calling for an earlier unsanctioned protest. In Moscow, several hundred protesters, most of them students, gathered on downtown Pushkinskaya Square, waving Russian flags and chanting "Russia will be free!" and "Let Navalny run!" Police warned them that the rally wasn't sanctioned and urged them to disperse, but let the protest continue for hours without trying to break it up.
MOSCOW – Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny cleared the first hurdle Sunday toward taking part in next year's presidential election, even though the Central Election Commission has previously ruled him ineligible to run. Navalny, 41, is a fierce opponent of President Vladimir Putin, who is widely expected to win re-election in March, extending his 17 years in power. On Sunday Navalny, a veteran campaigner against corruption among Russia's elite, won the initial support of 742 people at a gathering in a district of Moscow, above the minimum 500 required to initiate a presidential bid. "There is no large-scale support for Putin and his rule in this country," Navalny told the gathering, describing himself as a "real candidate" for the election and threatening a boycott of the vote by his supporters if he is barred from running. But Navalny now needs to be officially registered as a candidate by the election commission, which has previously said he is ineligible due to a suspended prison sentence that he says was politically motivated.