Russian police detain opposition leader at protest

Alexei Navalny was one of more than 243 people who attended protests calling for a boycott of the upcoming presidential election, and who were detained nationwide

Russian opposition leader Alexi Navalny
Russian opposition leader Alexi Navalny

Russian police this afternoon detained opposition leader Alexei Navalny as he attended a rally urging voters to boycott what he described as rigged presidential elections in March.

While Navalny stands little chance of causing an upset at the polls, he has shown himself to be quite the torn in the Kremlin’s side, and able to mobilise large numbers of, mainly young followers.

Video footage posted on social media showed Navalny appear on Moscow’s main thoroughfare, Tverskaya Street, a few hundred meters from the Kremlin, to join several hundred supporters taking part in the protest, which the authorities had said was illegal.

After walking a short distance, he was surrounded by police officers wearing helmets, who grabbed him, and forced him onto the ground, before dragging him into a patrol wagon.

Navalny’s personal Twitter feed carried a post to his followers saying he had been detained. “That does not matter. Come to Tverskaya. You’re not coming out for me, but for your future,” the post said.

He was taken to a police precinct in central Moscow, Navalny’s Internet site reported. Police said in a statement he would be charged with violating laws on holding demonstrations facing a maximum jail term of 30 days in jail.