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Rallies of Navalny's supporters held in 46 Russian regions

29 January 2018

For his part, Putin has refused to even say Navalny's name, warning that protest movements would only bring chaos to Russian Federation.

Officials rejected Mr Navalny's candidacy because of a February 2017 criminal conviction for embezzlement, which itself has been criticised by independent legal experts and foreign judges as politically motivated.

But to the man who has run for president in the past five elections, Navalny's supporters shouted, as they had to Putin earlier, "Leave!" "But that doesn't matter", Navalny's Twitter feed said Sunday afternoon alongside a video showing him being pulled into a police bus. "This doesn't mean anything. you didn't come out for me, but for your future". But the Kremlin seems to be tired of Navalny's ability to use social media to mobilize crowds of mostly young protesters in major cities.

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Ahead of the Moscow rally police broke into Navalny's headquarters using a power saw, interrupting a live broadcast covering protests in the east of the country.

Russian police detained opposition leader Alexei Navalny moments after he appeared at a rally to urge voters to boycott what he said would be a rigged presidential election in March.

Previous rallies organised by Mr Navalny in Moscow and St Petersburg have attracted thousands of people, and seen hundreds of protesters arrested by riot police, including Mr Navalny himself. Sokolova held up a sign that used a diminutive form of Vladimir: "Stop reigning, Vovka, our choice is protest". "I try to change our life - our life in Russian Federation, I mean". This time, he initially first stayed in an undisclosed location, taunting the authorities by saying he would announce his whereabouts, and then giving the address where Putin is registered to vote.

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The numbers attending Sunday's protests across Russian Federation - some shouting "Putin is a thief" - appeared lower than previous demonstrations staged by Navalny, Reuters reporters said, suggesting momentum may have shifted away from him. A few metres from where Navalny was detained, a tour guide was telling a group of clients about the history of a pre-revolutionary mansion. After protesters were detained en masse at a series of Navalny-led protests against rampant corruption past year, many came prepared for the worst.

The head of the local Navalny office, 28-year-old Violetta Grudina, said in an interview before she was detained that her team's mobilisation efforts represented one small step toward breaking through the political apathy that reigns in this remote region.

"Inspiring to watch the Russian people stand up for their rights despite the odds".

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Rallies of Navalny's supporters held in 46 Russian regions