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Over 1,600 arrested during anti-Kremlin protests

Andrew Trunsky, DCNF

Over 1,600 protesters across the country were arrested on Saturday, according to an international pro-democracy organization, after thousands gathered to support Alexei Navalny, one of the Kremlin’s most notable critics.

Police had arrested over 500 protesters in Moscow and 212 in St. Petersburg, independent non-governmental organization OVD Info said, the BBC reported. Ninety-two people were arrested in Novosibirsk, a Siberian city where protests occurred in sub-zero temperatures, and 35 were arrested in Vladivostok, a Russian city about 100 miles from North Korea. 

Protesters gathered in Russian cities Saturday to demand Navalny’s release from jail. Navalny has led sweeping anti-corruption campaigns across Russia and has amassed an enormous support network despite strict censorship from state media. Protesters gathered to demand Navalny’s release, according to the Associated Press.

Navalny’s wife, Yulia, announced that she was also arrested while protesting in Moscow.

Navalny, who returned to Russia after spending five months recovering from a deadly nerve agent attack that multiple foreign governments and Navalny himself have alleged was authorized by the Kremlin, was immediately arrested once his plane landed and sentenced to jail for at least 30 days.

The Kremlin said he breached the terms of a suspended sentence from 2014 after staying in Germany to recover from the poisoning. The sentence stemmed from an embezzlement case that international human rights groups have described as unfair, and Navalny’s trial is set for early February.

Navalny released an exposé on Jan. 19 alleging that a palace on the Black Sea was built for Russian President Vladimir Putin using funds generated from decades of corruption, calling it “the biggest bribe in history” and escalating his feud with Russian government.

His arrest outraged top officials in the United States and across Europe, and some E.U. officials called for stricter Russian sanctions in response.

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