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Aleksei Navalny Detained at Protest on Eve of Putin’s Inauguration

OVD-Info, a group that monitors political repression in Russia, said more than 350 people had been arrested by midafternoon. It said that more than 50 were held in Pushkin Square, including Mr. Navalny, and that the largest number of arrests had been in Chelyabinsk, where 97 people were detained. In Yakutsk, in the far northeast, 75 were detained but all had since been released, the group said.

Demonstrators also gathered in St. Petersburg, where the authorities had closed off Mars Field, a large park that is often a site of demonstrations; signs on the barricades said it was closed for urgent repair work.

Mr. Navalny had warned on Twitter in Russian of “the negative consequences” of not turning out to protest, according to media reports.

“If you stay at home, Putin’s gang will tear the country apart and deprive you personally of a future,” he said in a tweet.

The Kremlin critic has initiated protests across Russia in recent years at his own peril. Last year, after Mr. Navalny declared his intention to run for president, an assailant tossed a green chemical in his face and Mr. Navalny had feared losing most of his eyesight. He was eventually barred from running in the election.

Protesters braved icy temperatures in March to demonstrate across Russia against the lack of choice in an election that was seen as a lock for Mr. Putin.

Mr. Putin has been in power, either as president or prime minister, since 2000. He was re-elected president in March with more than 76 percent of the vote — his best election performance. But the opposition and some international observers reported widespread irregularities in the vote.

Source: NYT > World

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