Russian police arrest thousands during second weekend of pro-democracy protests

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Andrew Trunsky, DCNF

Over 4,000 pro-democracy protesters gathering in support of Alexi Navalny, a vocal Kremlin critic, have been detained by Russian police since the beginning of last weekend, according to local media and pro-democracy organizations.

The arrests have occurred across the country, from European cities like Moscow and St. Petersburg to far-eastern cities like Vladivostok, according to Russian monitoring groups, BBC reported.

Large-scale protests began in Russia last weekend following Navalny’s arrest. He was arrested on Jan. 17 upon returning to Russia from Germany, where he had been recovering from a near-fatal poisoning from a deadly nerve agent, which he has said was done at the orders of Russian President Vladimir Putin.

Russian authorities claimed that he violated the terms of his previous shortened sentence when he chose to stay in Germany when recovering instead of returning to Russia and remaining in contact with police.

Navalny is awaiting his February trial in a Russian jail for his alleged role in a 2014 embezzlement case which human rights groups have described as unfair.

Following his arrest, Navalny released an exposé 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 the 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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