On Sunday, Russian police detained hundreds of protesters as activists took to the streets across the country to demand the release of jailed Kremlin critic Alexey Navalny.
Security forces detained Navalny’s wife Yuliya Navalnaya in a protest in Moscow, her supporters said on social media. Monitoring group OVD-Info noted that more than 300 people have been detained in the capital.
Navalanaya was also detained last week in a similar demonstration in support of her husband.
The first rallies took place in the Far East, including the port city of Vladivostok, where protesters gathered in the city’s central square, despite police closing in front of the rally.
“The desire to live in an independent country is stronger than the fear of being detained,” said Andrei, 25 years old.
In the footage of Vladivostok, dozens of protesters showed police escaping and dancing on the frozen waters of Amur Bay. More than 100 arrests were made there.
The video posted online shows the protesters being held in buses by police. Most of the youth were seen dancing and swinging: “Putin is a thief,” and “Freedom for Russia.”
According to the Independent Monitor, about 1,500 people were detained in more than a dozen cities.
Interior Ministry spokesman Irina Volk condemned the protesters.
“Under the current circumstances, the threat of protests is increasing … and they aim to violate the civil system.” In this situation, your personal safety may be in danger. We strongly advise you to caution your young children, other relatives and acquaintances from participating in unauthorized events, ”she said.
44-year-old Navalny was arrested on January 17 after his return to Germany from Russia, where he spent five months recovering from nerve-agent poisoning. His protest sparked nationwide protests in around 100 cities last week. About 4,000 people were arrested.
Sunday’s Moscow rally will take place outside the headquarters of the Federal Security Service, Russia’s main security agency, which Navalny said was an almost deadly poison attack at the behest of President Vladimir Putin. The Kremlin denied the charge.
In an unprecedented move, police in the capital announced the closure of seven metro stations, saying that the movement of pedestrians to the city center would be limited.
Moscow officials also said that some centrally located restaurants and shops would be closed and overground transport would be diverted.