Supporters of Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny have been arrested across Russia. This comes only a day after he ended a 25-day jail term for organizing protests against President Vladimir Putin.
Some 70 people were reportedly detained for "disturbing public order" in Moscow, the city's police told the Russian Interfax news agency on Saturday. Twenty more of Navalny's backers were arrested in other Russian cities, according to OVD-Info, an NGO.
The Moscow arrests were made at a pro-Navalny event organized by his Anti-Corruption Foundation, with online media showing images of police officers leading protesters away.
One arrestee (pictured below) tweeted: "Bandits can stay cool. The stupidity of policemen is unlimited":
A thorn in Putin's side
Navalny, who intends to run as a candidate for Russia's presidency next March, is one of Putin's most outspoken critics and has been repeatedly arrested for participating in peaceful protests.
In February of last year, the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) in Strasbourg ordered Russia to pay him damages for several such arrests, which the court said had violated his right to peaceful protest.
On Thursday, authorities raided the party's Moscow election headquarters, confiscating campaign material. Navalny ally Leonid Volkov reported that authorities had raided a number of party offices around the country on Friday.
Navalny hopes to stand against Putin in the 2018 presidential election. He has been jailed twice in recent months after organizing large anti-corruption rallies banned by the authorities and which saw scores of arrests.
Electoral authorities say a suspended prison sentence makes him ineligible to run for office, while Putin has yet to confirm whether he will seek re-election himself.
Putin shuns dialogue
"I believe we can have a dialogue... with people who propose constructive, even if critical, positions," Putin said on the sidelines of the G20 meeting in Hamburg, Germany.
"But as regards those who only try to draw attention to themselves, then there is no point in dialogue," said Putin. "If this is only about gaining attention then a dialogue is not interesting," Putin said, again refusing to utter his opponent's name.
jbh/jm (AFP, dpa)