Russian opposition leader Navalny seized amid protests

Russia police opposition headquarters storm putin election corruption rigged protest news

Russia police opposition headquarters storm putin election corruption rigged protest news

Heeding a call by President Putin's bete noire, thousands rallied in dozens of cities to protest upcoming "pseudo-elections", with many chanting and brandishing placards saying "Voters' strike".

The demonstrations on Sunday had a moderate turnout, drawing hundreds in many places, and were generally peaceful, although scattered arrests were reported.

Mr Putin, who has dominated the Russian political landscape for the past 18 years, described United States criticism of the election commission's decision as crude interference in Russia's internal affairs and suggested Mr Navalny was Washington's pick for the presidency.

Russian President Vladimir Putin's most prominent critic - was arrested when he was on his way to a protest in Moscow.

"I was detained. It does not matter", he posted on Twitter, urging people to still attend the rallies. "Come to Tverskaya. You're not coming out for me, but for yourself and your future", he wrote on Twitter moments afterward. Russian officials say the protests were illegal.

"It's not so much that I'm for Navalny - it's that I want to have real elections", 19-year-old Dmitry said. He can face a jail sentence of maximum 30 days.

Footage posted on Mr Navalny's official YouTube channel shows officers entering a studio and questioning staff.

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Despite his arrest, Navalny called for the protests to continue. "If we take to the streets, then at least we have some kind of chance".

Coordinating protests in the largest country in the world by land mass is no small task, and the Russian Interior Ministry said events coordinated with local authorities were held in 46 places.

Rallies, not sanctioned by the authorities, are planned in more than 100 towns and cities on Sunday.

Earlier in the day opposition supporters protested in far eastern Russia and Siberia, including in the northern city of Yakutsk where Russians rallied despite temperatures of around minus 45 Celsius (minus 49 Fahrenheit).

"We knew this could happen, and so we have a straight-forward clear plan", said Navalny earlier.

Photo Security forces gathered in Moscow on Sunday ahead of a demonstration there. Law enforcement authorities also cracked down hard at a protest in May 2012, the day before Putin returned to the Kremlin for his current term after a stint as prime minister.

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