More than 1,000 people have been arrested today during protests across Russia demanding the release of opposition leader Alexei Navalny, including 142 in the capital, according to the charity OVD-Info.
According to the anti-surveillance organization, the highest number of arrests took place in Moscow, followed by Vladivostok (113), the rest of the country, then Nobosipirsk (93) and Krasnoyarsk (91) in Siberia.
Earlier, OVD-Info announced the arrest of more than 260 protesters in several cities in Russia’s 11 time zones.
Thousands of people across the country took to the streets across Russia today to demand the release of opposition leader Alexei Navalny.
Authorities opposed the protest with all available police forces, special services and the army, “said Tariq al-Hashimi, the party’s secretary general.
In Moscow, unprecedented security measures have been put in place after several metro stations near the Kremlin were closed, bus services halted and restaurants and shops ordered not to close.
Navalny, 44, a well-known critic of President Vladimir Putin, was arrested on January 17 and returned from Germany, where he spent five months recovering from poisoning by nerve agents, for which the Kremlin was responsible. The Russian authorities have denied the allegations.
Navalny’s supporters have called for today’s protest in Lubyanga Square in Moscow, the headquarters of the Federal Security Service, which he attributes to his poisoning.
Courts have arrested activists associated with Navalny across the country as part of an effort by authorities to prevent protests.
Lawyers also demanded that social networks on the Internet block take part in the protests.
About 4,000 people were arrested during protests on January 23 in more than 100 Russian cities demanding the release of Navalny, and some were fined and imprisoned.
Navalny was placed in a coma during a domestic flight from Siberia to Moscow on August 20, and was transferred to a Berlin hospital two days later.
Laboratories in Germany, France and Sweden and tests by the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons concluded that he had been exposed to the neurotic agent Novichok.
Russian authorities have refused to launch a criminal investigation into the poisoning, citing lack of evidence.
When he returned to Russia in January, he was jailed for 30 days in 2014 after Russian prison services claimed he had violated the terms of a suspended sentence for money laundering, which was considered retaliation by a Russian protester.
On Thursday, a Moscow court rejected Navalny’s release, and next week another trial could turn his three-and-a-half-year suspended sentence into an effective prison sentence.