Russia: Thousands arrested in second weekend of pro-Navalny protests

31 January 2021, 14:14 | Updated: 31 January 2021, 15:27

Hundreds arrested amid protests in Russia demanding Alexei Navalny’s release

By Joe Cook

Around 4,000 people have been detained across Russia in a second weekend of protests calling for the release of jailed Kremlin critic Alexei Navalny.

According to OVD-Info monitor, 4,027 people had been arrested by 14.30 GMT on Sunday, including 1,167 in Moscow and 862 in Saint Petersburg.

Those arrested in Moscow reportedly include Yulia Navalny, the wife of the jailed opposition leader. Their team tweeted: "Yulia Navalnaya was detained at the protest! Freedom for the Navalnys!"

Mrs Navalny was also amongst 2,600 arrests made last weekend, as protests erupted across more than 60 Russian cities.

Read more: Britain calls for release of Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny

People dance a circle dance during an unauthorized rally in Kaliningrad.
People dance a circle dance during an unauthorized rally in Kaliningrad. Picture: Vitaly Nevar/Tass/PA Images
Police clashed with protesters who have taken to the streets in their thousands.
Police clashed with protesters who have taken to the streets in their thousands. Picture: PA

Alexei Navalny was arrested on January 17 after returning from Germany where he spent five months recovering from nerve agent poisoning that he blames on the Kremlin.

Russian authorities said Navalny's stay in Germany violated the terms of a suspended sentence in a criminal conviction in a case that Mr Navalny claims was illegitimate.

He is due to appear in court in early February to determine if he will serve the three-and-a-half-year sentence in prison.

Read more: Russia 'wants everyone to know' they are behind Navalny poisoning, suggests military expert

Pro-Navalny protester explains demonstrations in Moscow

This weekend, the police have upped their efforts to stop the demonstrations, with Moscow police introducing unprecedented security measures in the city centre.

Several subway stations near the Kremlin were closed, busses cancelled and shops and restaurants told to close.

The Moscow protest was initially set to be held in Lubyanka Square, home to the main headquarters of the Federal Security Service, which the 44-year-old claims was responsible for his poisoning.

However, police cordoned off the area around the square, arresting protesters as they moved to gather at a second location.

OVD-Info claim at least 35 of those arrested were beaten by security services.

The Interior Ministry has issued stern warnings to the public not to join the protests, saying participants could be charged with taking part in mass riots, which carries a prison sentence of up to eight years.

Those engaging in violence against police could face up to 15 years.

Thousands of protesters took to the streets in St Petersburg.
Thousands of protesters took to the streets in St Petersburg. Picture: Peter Kovalev/Tass/PA Images
Moscow riot police have made almost 1,000 arrests, with some accusing the police of violence.
Moscow riot police have made almost 1,000 arrests, with some accusing the police of violence. Picture: Sergei Savostyanov/Tass/PA Images

Novosibirsk in eastern Siberia saw one of the biggest rallies, with thousands marching across the city chanting "Putin, thief!" About 90 protesters were detained there.

The chants referred to a luxurious Black Sea estate reportedly built for Russian President Vladimir Putin that Mr Navalny's team have released a popular video about.

A huge number of riot police were deployed in the snow across Russia.
A huge number of riot police were deployed in the snow across Russia. Picture: PA
Protesters were loaded onto busses by riot police.
Protesters were loaded onto busses by riot police. Picture: PA
A police officer detains a demonstrator during an unauthorised protest in St Petersburg.
A police officer detains a demonstrator during an unauthorised protest in St Petersburg. Picture: Peter Kovalev/Tass/PA Images

Mr Navalny has been a thorn in the Kremlin's side for a decade.

He has been jailed repeatedly in connection with protests and has twice been convicted of financial misdeeds in cases that he said were politically motivated.

He suffered significant eye damage when an assailant threw disinfectant into his face, and was taken from jail to hospital in 2019 with an illness that authorities said was an allergic reaction but that many suspected was poisoning.

More Latest News

See more More Latest News

A Scottish council has come under fire for handing almost 2,000 penalties in the first 11 days of its low emission zone

Scottish council under fire after handing out 2,000 fines in first 11 days of new low emission zone

Graziano Di Prima has broken his silence

Strictly Come Dancing pro Graziano Di Prima breaks silence after being 'sacked' following misconduct claims

Strictly Come Dancing professional dancer Graziano Di Prima has been sacked by the BBC

Strictly Come Dancing pro 'sacked' after claims of gross misconduct towards former partner Zara McDermott

Prince William will be at the game on Sunday

‘Just one last push’: Prince William’s message to the England team ahead of Euro 2024 final against Spain

The family of the three women who were killed in a crossbow attack have said they are "devastated"

‘We are devastated’, John Hunt and surviving daughter say, after his wife and two daughters killed in crossbow attack

At least 71 Palestinians have been killed in an Israeli air strike

‘Dozens killed in air strike on Gaza humanitarian zone’ as Israel says it was targeting Hamas leaders

The Princess of Wales is set to attend the Wimbledon Men's final

Princess of Wales to attend Wimbledon men's singles final in second public appearance since cancer diagnosis

Comedian John Bishop has divided fans after announcing he will be changing the time of his gig on Sunday

Wireless Festival and Comedian John Bishop spark controversy after changing set times for England's Euro 2024 final

Joe Biden has insisted he is staying in the race

Democrat donors ‘withhold $90m unless Biden stands down’ as Obama and Pelosi ‘oppose President’s re-election bid’

Two suitcases with human remains inside were found in Bristol

Armed police arrest man, 34, at train station following discovery of human remains in Bristol and west London

Princess Anne has returned to public duties for the first time since her accident

Princess Anne 'can't remember a single thing' about horse-related accident as she returns to public duties

Tony Blair was among a star-studded guest list at the wedding of the son of India's richest man

Tony Blair, Boris Johnson and wrestling star John Cena among guests at lavish wedding of Asia's richest man

Jay Slater went missing nearly a month ago

Jay Slater ‘looked unwell’ hours before he went missing, says Tenerife nightclub waitress who ‘gave him water’

Actor Alec Baldwin reacts during his trial for involuntary manslaughter

Alec Baldwin weeps in court as judge dismisses manslaughter case against actor after fatal shooting on film set

Police have named 24-year-old Colombian national Yostin Andres Mosquera as suspect

Suspect named in manhunt as more human remains found in flat after two bodies discovered in suitcases in Bristol

Patrice Evra has been given a suspended 12-month sentence after being found guilty of abandoning his family for over two years

Man United legend Evra given suspended 12-month prison sentence after being found guilty of abandoning family