Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny and hundreds of anti-Kremlin activists were detained on Saturday at an unsanctioned rally in central Moscow, two days ahead of Vladimir Putin’s inauguration for a fourth term as president, reported AFP.
Navalny had called for people to stage protests in more than 90 towns and cities across Russia to register their opposition to what Navalny says is Putin’s autocratic Tsar-like rule, reported Reuters. Navalny posted a message ahead of the marches, “If you think that he is not our Tsar, take to the streets of your cities”, according to Sky News.
Putin won the re-election in March, allowing him one more term as president till 2024. This will make him the longest-lasting leader since Soviet dictator Josef Stalin who ruled for nearly 30 years.
Navalny, who was barred from running in the election against Putin allegedly under a false pretext, was detained soon after showing up on Moscow’s central Pushkinskaya Square, reported Reuters. Young people were reportedly chanting “Russia without Putin” and “Down with the Tsar”. Navalny has been detained for organising similar protests in the past.
Videos posted on social media show Navalny being carried away by his hands and legs by policemen. Several other protesters too were carted off in a similar fashion. In St Petersburg, protesters were prevented from reaching the city’s central square. Dozens of protestors who took to the streets in Russia’s far east regions and Siberia were also detained, reported AFP.
The authorities regard most of the protests as illegal, arguing that their time and place was not agreed with them beforehand.