According to the independent OVD-Info website that monitors the arrests, 1,009 people have so far been arrested across the country due to unauthorized protests. This number is expected to increase.
Navalny’s supporters said they are planning nationwide protests in at least 120 cities, each of which will begin at midday local time in that city. The country covers 11 time zones.
Live video and video clips on social media showed crowds of people congregating in a number of cities chanting “Putin, the thief,” in reference to Russian President Vladimir Putin.
Navalny was arrested on January 17, moments after his arrival in Moscow, after months of treatment in Germany after he was poisoned in August 2020 with the nerve gas Novichok. He blamed the poisoning on the Russian government, a claim the Kremlin has repeatedly denied.
The politician is currently detained ahead of a February 2 court hearing where the court will decide whether the suspended sentence for fraud charges in the 2014 embezzlement case should be converted into a prison sentence for what the Russian authorities describe as a breach of the conditions. From his suspended sentence.
Speaking at that session, Navalny urged the protesters to keep coming out.
“They are the last barrier preventing those in power from stealing everything. They are the true patriots,” he said. “You will not be able to intimidate us – we are the majority.”
The Russian Ministry of Internal Affairs has warned Russian citizens against participating in “unauthorized” protests. “The Russian Interior Ministry calls on citizens to refrain from participating in unauthorized protests,” the ministry said in a blog post on Instagram.
Russian federal law requires organizers to file an appeal with local authorities at least 10 days in advance to obtain permission to hold a protest.
Navalny’s team announced, through their social media accounts, new gathering points for protesters in the cities of Moscow and Saint Petersburg, after the Russian authorities closed some streets and metro stations before the rallies.
Security forces were seen vigorously on the streets of central Moscow at dawn on Sunday, including Lubyanka Square, the headquarters of the Russian Federal Security Service (FSB).
Rebecca Ross, a spokeswoman for the US Embassy in Moscow, urged Russia to respect international human rights as protests erupted across the country.
Live video footage of the protests in the Russian city of Novosibirsk, in Siberia, showed police arresting drivers who were honking their car horns in support of the demonstrators. In response, protesters were heard chanting: “Set them free.”
People can be seen with their elbows tied, chains formed, and shouting “Freedom!” And “Give our money back!” They stand in front of the town hall in the center of Novosibirsk. Lines of riot police were standing in front of them.
Protesters were heard marching through the snow-covered streets chanting, “Russia without Putin!” And One For All, All For One.
Prior to Sunday’s protests, authorities announced that some streets in central Moscow would be closed, seven metro stations would be closed and that alcohol could not be sold in glass jars throughout the day.
In addition, the Moscow mayor’s office said that cafes, restaurants and other catering facilities in the city center will be closed on Sunday, according to Russia’s state media agency TASS.
And she wrote in a post accompanying the picture, referring to the Russian authorities: “If we keep silent, they will come tomorrow after any of us.”
“In a 16-storey bunker with a water disco, a randomly frightened person decides our fate – he might decide to imprison one and poison another,” she wrote.
The Kremlin has repeatedly denied any involvement in the poisoning of Alexei Navalny to Novichok.
Vladimir Ashurkov, FBK executive director, who signed the letter, told CNN on Saturday that the foundation is calling on the United States to pressure Putin to release Navalny.