Russian Federation police raid Navalny's office amid protests

Monday, 29 Jan, 2018

Beneath bright blue skies, hundreds of supporters of opposition leader Alexei Navalny gathered in Vladivostok as part of a nationwide protest against the authorities.

Images broadcast online by supporters of Mr Navalny showed officers arriving at the building on Sunday morning and beginning to question people, with spokeswoman Kira Yarmysh claiming they used an angle grinder to gain entry. "You are not coming for me, but for yourself and your future", he said, referring to Moscow's main thoroughfare.

Navalny's spox Kira Yarmysh said that over the past week, police raided 78 out of 84 regional headquarters of his regional offices, searching the premises to seize leaflets and other materials calling for an "unsanctioned rally".

Police initially tried to talk protesters into leaving the area, even attempting to convince a group of schoolchildren that Navalny was up to no good.

Coordinating protests in the largest country in the world by land mass is no small task, and the Russian Interior Ministry said events coordinated with local authorities were held in 46 places.

Approximately 2,000 people marched through Moscow Sunday in support of Navalny, according to reporters in the city. Police said in a statement he would be charged with violating laws on holding demonstrations facing a maximum jail term of 30 days in jail.

And the protests have continued Sunday.

Navalny himself was forcefully detained within minutes of appearing on Tverskaya Ulitsa, before he had a chance to join the protesters on the square.

Officials rejected Mr Navalny's candidacy because of a February 2017 criminal conviction for embezzlement, which itself has been criticised by independent legal experts and foreign judges as politically motivated.

Mr Navalny called for a boycott of the March 18 presidential election in which President Vladimir Putin is seeking a fourth term.

Mr Navalny's Moscow co-ordinator, Nikolai Lyaskin, also was detained on Sunday, the Interfax news agency quoted him as saying. "But that doesn't matter", Navalny's Twitter read later in the day.

"It's not so much that I'm for Navalny - it's that I want to have real elections", 19-year-old Dmitry said. "People are not ready to wait another six years, then another six, then another".

But to the man who has run for president in the past five elections, Navalny's supporters shouted, as they had to Putin earlier, "Leave!"