Russian authorities on Sunday detained nearly 4,000 protesters, who took to the streets to oppose the imprisonment of Kremlin critic Alexei Navalny. Thousands of demonstrators gathered in Moscow on Sunday demanding the release of Navalny, who was jailed by the Russian authorities after he returned back from Germany on January 17. The protest was called by Navalny's supporters and allies last week following another demonstration that saw people pour on streets across Russia to protest his detention.
Russian authorities had warned of consequences prior to the protest, which took place on Sunday. Russian Interior Ministry spokesperson Irina Volk said that participants found violating the COVID-19 preventive measures will face serious charges.
Navalny was jailed after he returned back from Germany, where he recovering from a failed assassination attempt. Last year in August, Navalny fell ill on a flight from Tomsk to Moscow following which he was admitted to a hospital. Navalny's aides alleged that he had been poisoned and demanded his transfer from Russia to Germany for treatment. Russian doctors ruled out poisoning but when Navalny reached Berlin, German doctors concluded that he was poisoned using Novichok, a Soviet-era nerve agent.
Navalny recovered following days in a medically-induced coma. Navalny continued his criticism of the Russian state from Germany and claimed that Russian President Vladimir Putin was behind his poisoning. Last month, Russian prison authorities asked Navalny to return back to Russia citing he was in violation of his 2014 suspended prison term. Authorities warned that if Navalny fails to show up before a certain date he would face jail term upon returning.
As soon as Navalny got back to Russia, he was arrested by authorities, which sparked widespread protests across the country on January 23. Russian authorities cracked down on protesters and allies of Navalny by making mass arrests. Tens of thousands of people gathered in Moscow and other cities despite chilling cold with mercury plummeting as low as -50 degree Celcius in some places. According to reports, more than 3,500 people were detained in connection with the protests, 1,400 from Moscow alone. Later, Navalny's aides had called for another protest on January 31.
(Image Credit: AP)