Numerous arrests have been reported at rallies associated with opposition politician Aleksei Navalny in some 90 towns and cities across Russia on Sunday, January 28. The opposition leader was arrested shortly after joining a rally held in Moscow on Sunday, after calling for protests to go ahead in boycott of Russia’s March presidential election. Earlier in the day, police raided Navalny’s Moscow office. Fourteen people have also been arrested during protests in Kemerovo (western Siberia).
Cities where demonstrations are being held include:
- Moscow: from 14:00 (local time) on Tverskaya Street
- St. Petersburg: from 14:00 near the UK Consulate on Ploshchad Proletarskoy Diktatury
- Yekaterinburg: from 14:00 at Uralets sports center and proceeding to the intersection of Bolshakova and 8th of March streets until 18:00
- Vladivostok: from 14:00 at Central Square
In Moscow and St Petersburg the rallies were not been approved by local authorities, increasing the likelihood clashes between demonstrators and police. As of 16:15, there have been no reports of violence, though clashes cannot be ruled out.
Official authorization is required for all protests and other large public gatherings in Russia; police sometimes use force to disperse unauthorized demonstrations. During nationwide opposition protests organized by Navalny in October, police arrested at least 260 people and reportedly dispersed protesters with tear gas.
Navalny is a well-known anti-corruption activist, and announced in December 2016 that he would run for president in 2018. However, on December 25, 2017, Russia's electoral commission officially barred him from running due to previous arrests. Despite warnings that he would be banned from participating in the election, Navalny has campaigned throughout the year, holding rallies across the country that have drawn thousands of people.
Individuals present in Russia are advised to avoid all demonstrations as violence can break out with little to no warning.