Police took several allies of the jailed Kremlin critic Alexei Navalny into custody early on Thursday, ahead of planned demonstrations at the weekend.
Aides of the opposition figure were subjected to searches linked to a criminal investigation launched by Russia's Interior Ministry.
The probe was into alleged violations of coronavirus restrictions during protests last week, they added.
'Go out and do not be afraid'
The opposition has called for fresh demonstrations on Sunday to demand Navalny's release. The 44-year-old was arrested after returning to Russia from Germany, where he received medical treatment and was recovering following a poisoning attack.
"Go out and do not be afraid," Navalny wrote in a message posted on his team's website.
"Nobody wants to live in a country where arbitrariness and corruption rule," he said. "We have the majority on our side."
Those arrested include activist Maria Alyokhina from the punk band Pussy Riot, and Navalny's ophthalmologist Anastasia Vasilyeva, who is also head of the independent Doctors’ Alliance labor union.
Vasilyeva appeared on social media playing the piano as police raided her apartment.
Navalny's team said his brother Oleg as well as his ally Lyubov Sobol were also detained.
Navalny granted meeting with lawyer
Meanwhile, a Moscow court on Thursday rejected an appeal from Navalny's legal team against his 30-day pretrial detention. The opposition politician told a judge that he had not been allowed a one-to-one meeting with his defense lawyer since being arrested upon his return to Russia.
The judge gave Navalny five minutes to speak to his lawyer via video link, with prison guards asked to leave the room so that they could talk privately.
Navalny also attended the court hearing from prison through a video link. During the hearing, Navalny criticized what he described as the "lawlessness" of the process.
"This is blatant lawlessness to intimidate me and other people," he told the court.
"You won't succeed in frightening us. We are the majority... I'm happy that more and more people understand that the law is on our side. That we're in the right," he said.
"We'll never allow ... these people to seize and steal our country. Yes, brute force is on your side now. You can...put me in handcuffs. [But] that will not continue forever."
A makeshift court at a police station last week ordered Navalny placed in custody until February 15. He was then moved to Moscow's Matrosskaya Tishina, a high-security detention center.
Whether a previous suspended sentence will be converted into a prison term, as prosecutors are calling for, will be decided in another hearing on Tuesday.
Raids on houses and offices
Police on Wednesday raided apartments and offices belonging to Navalny and his associates.
It is reported that Navalny's wife, Yulia, was in one of the apartments and his brother in another. Police also raided two offices belonging to Navalny's FBK anti-corruption organization.
Several social media users posted images and video of police breaking down doors at the apartments as well as the offices. One user posted video of "special units breaking down the door to the 'Navalny Live' studio."
Navalny is accused by Russian prosecutors of breaking the terms of the sentence by traveling to Germany. He had been in a coma from the Novichok attack when he was taken to Berlin.
rc/sms (Reuters, AP, AFP, dpa)