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Russian police detain Alexei Navalny at rally

January 28, 2018

The opposition leader had joined a rally calling for a nationwide boycott of the 2018 presidential election. Russian authorities warned Navalny against organizing protests, saying it would have "certain consequences."

Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny, centre, is detained by police officers in Moscow, Russia
Image: picture-alliance/AP Photo/E. Feldman

Russian authorities on Sunday detained Alexei Navalny at a rally aimed at garnering support for a boycott of Russia's presidential election slated for March.

"I have been detained," Navalny said in a tweet. "That doesn't matter ... You're not coming out for me, but for your future." In a separate tweet, his account posted a video showing the arrest.

Read more: Alexei Navalny: Russia's opposition leader

Earlier in the day, police descended on Navalny's Moscow headquarters, forcing their way in using an angle grinder, a spokeswoman for the opposition leader said.

What we know

  • Navalny was arrested at a rally calling for a nationwide boycott of the 2018 presidential election.
  • More than 180 people have been detained at rallies across the country, according to independent monitors.

  • Ahead of the rallies, police raided Navalny's offices in Moscow.

  • Putin's spokesman Dmitry Peskov warned that rallies held without official permission would result in "certain consequences," which seems to suggest official reprisals could take place.

Read more: Russia warns US against 'meddling' in presidential election

What they said

In a video before the rally, Navalny urged Russians to rally in the streets, saying: "If you don't go, you won't forgive yourself later. Sooner or later, they will cut your door too."

In December, Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov warned that "calls for boycott" could be "breaking the law."

Human Rights Watch has called on Russian authorities to end their crackdown on the opposition leader's presidential campaign, saying: "The pattern of harassment and intimidation against Navalny's campaign is undeniable."

One man at the rally told DW's Emily Sherwin that what Russians "want first and foremost is honest elections. We want there to be no censorship in our country, for people to speak openly about their problems."

Navalny detained at rally: Emily Sherwin from Moscow

A young woman, alluding to President Putin, said that the "tsar who is on the throne now has been there for too long."

Read more: Russia's high court reaffirms Navalny ban from presidential race 

Why are Russians protesting: Protesters aim to rally against the March 18 presidential election they say is rigged to hand President Vladimir Putin a fourth term in office, cementing his Kremlin power until 2024.

Why has Navalny been banned: Russian authorities said he is ineligible because of a criminal conviction for financial crimes that Navalny claims is politically motivated.

Why do protesters want to see Putin go: Putin has been in power, both as president and prime minister, for 18 years now. Many feel this is too long and also accuse the president and his allies of corruption and authoritarianism.

Read moreRussia's presidential election: What you need to know 

What happens next: The presidential election, slated for March, is widely expected to happen despite the calls for a boycott. However, Navalny is hoping to significantly decrease participation to mar the vote.

ls,tj/jlw (Reuters, dpa, AFP)