Russia arrests more than 1,000 people demanding jailed opposition leader Alexei Navalny’s release

In Moscow riot police and national guards shut down central metro stations and block off downtown avenues to prevent a repeat of last week’s record protests

Alexei Navalny has been a ferocious critic of President Vladimir Putin

Thousands of Russians marched in support of Alexei Navalny on Sunday, demanding the jailed opposition leader’s release.

More than 1,000 people – including Navalny’s wife Yulia Navalnaya – were detained at rallies as supporters of the Kremlin critic took to the streets, according to reports.

In Moscow riot police and national guards shut down the central metro stations and blocked off downtown avenues to prevent a repeat of last week’s record protests, The Guardian newspaper said.

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Forced out of the centre, a crowd chanting “Putin is a thief” marched toward Komsomolskaya Square, also known as the Three Station Square after the three rail termini situated there, the newspaper said.

In St Petersburg, Russia’s second-largest city, authorities took similar security precautions, shutting down Nevsky Prospekt, the main avenue.

The first protests began in the far east of the country. Police in Vladivostok blocked protesters from reaching the city centre. Video footage showed people linking hands and chanting “Putin is a thef” as they gathered in temperatures of around -13 degree Celsius.

In Tomsk, Siberia, which Navalny visited before collapsing on a domestic flight last August, demonstrators gathered in front of a concert hall and chanted “Let him go!”.

There were clashes between police and protesters in the central city of Chelyabinsk, according to local media reports.

Last week, hundreds of thousands of demonstrators protested in support of Navalny, who was arrested upon his arrival in Moscow earlier this month and sentenced to pretrial detention.

More than 4,000 people were arrested for their involvement in the protests.

Earlier this year, the Anti-Corruption Foundation, established in 2011 by Navalny to investigate and to expose corruption cases among high-ranking Russian government officials, released a documentary named A Palace for Putin. It detailed alleged corruption by President Vladimir Putin over the building of the Residence at Cape Idokopas. The film estimates that the complex, located near the town of Gelendzhik in Krasnodar Krai, was built for Putin at a cost of $1.35 billion. Putin denied owning the palace; oligarch Arkady Rotenberg claimed ownership.

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