“Yulia Navalnaya was arrested during the protest! Freedom for the Navalnys!” said a tweet from Navalny’s team.
So far, 1,643 people have been arrested for unauthorized protests across Russia, according to OVD-Info, an independent agency monitoring arrests. That number is expected to increase.
Supporters of Navalny, who has now been detained for two weeks, said they were planning nationwide protests in at least 120 cities, starting at 12 noon local time in that city. The country spans 11 time zones.
According to a local CNN team, protesters in Moscow planned to march to the Matrosskaya Tishina detention center, where Navalny is being held. Local authorities successively closed subway stations that led to the detention center in the northeastern Sokolniki district.
Prior to her reported detention, Yulia Navalnaya posted a picture on Instagram of participating in a protest in the area. “It’s great in Sokolniki today!” Said Navalnaya in the caption next to a photo showing her with her hands raised, followed by a column of people.
Navalny was arrested on January 17, shortly after arriving in Moscow, after months of treatment in Germany, after being poisoned with the nerve agent Novichok in August 2020. He charged the Russian government with poisoning, an allegation the Kremlin has repeatedly denied.
The politician is currently in custody ahead of a February 2 trial that will see a court decide whether to convert his suspended sentence for fraud to jail in a 2014 embezzlement case for violating his suspended sentence.
On Thursday, Navalny appeared on video link from Matrosskaya Tishina at a trial that denied his appeal against his detention before the next week’s hearing.
At that hearing, Navalny urged protesters to keep coming out. “They are the final barrier that prevents those in power from stealing anything. They are the real patriots,” he said. “You won’t be able to intimidate us – we are the majority.”
Live video feeds and social media videos on Sunday showed crowds gathering in a number of cities and singing, “Putin is a thief,” in the style of Russian President Vladimir Putin.
In the Russian city of Novosibirsk, Siberia, a live video showed police arrest drivers who honked their car horns in support of the demonstrators. In response, protesters were heard chanting, “Let them go!”
You could see people with their elbows bandaged in chains and saying “Freedom!” Sang. and “Give our money back!” when they stood in front of the City Hall in the center of Novosibirsk. Rows of riot police stood in front of them.
Protesters marching through the snow-covered streets could be heard: “Russia without Putin!” and “one for all and all for one.”
The Russian Interior Ministry previously warned Russian citizens not to take part in the “unauthorized” protests. “The Russian Interior Ministry urges citizens not to participate in unauthorized protests,” said the ministry in an Instagram post.
According to Russian federal law, organizers must appeal to local authorities at least 10 days in advance to obtain permission to hold a protest.
Police custody in Moscow
The Navalny team announced new rallying points for protesters in the cities of Moscow and St. Petersburg through their social media accounts after Russian authorities closed certain streets and metro stations ahead of the rallies.
Security forces were seen on the streets of central Moscow early on Sunday, including Lubyanka Square, where the headquarters of the Russian Federal Security Service (FSB) is located.
Rebecca Ross, spokeswoman for the US embassy in Moscow, urged Russia to respect international human rights as protests are taking place across the country.
“Prior to planned protests in support of @Navalny, the Russian authorities pre-emptively arrested activists and journalists and blocked Moscow city center. Reports from hundreds of demonstrators detained in Russia today. Russia must comply with international #humanrights commitments,” tweeted Ross On Sunday.
The CNN team in Moscow saw police arrest demonstrators to stop protests in the capital.
Authorities announced ahead of the protests on Sunday that certain streets in central Moscow would be closed, seven metro stations would be closed and alcohol would not be sold in glass containers all day.
In addition, the Moscow mayor’s office announced that cafes, restaurants and other catering establishments would be closed in the city center on Sunday, according to Russian state media agency TASS.
According to OVD-Info, more than 2,100 people, including Navalnaya, were arrested at rallies in almost 100 cities last weekend.Before the last protest, Navalnaya posted a photo of her family on Instagram. The picture shows family members, including her husband Alexey and his brother Oleg Navalny, who was arrested in Moscow earlier this week.
“If we keep silent, they will follow each of us tomorrow,” she wrote in a post attached to the photo, referring to the Russian authorities.
Navalnaya also referred to Putin and an investigation by the Navalny Anti-Corruption Foundation (FBK) into Putin’s wealth and a luxurious palace he allegedly owns on the Black Sea.
“In a 16-story bunker with an aquadisco, a frightened person happens to decide our fate – he might decide to lock one up and poison another,” she wrote.
The Kremlin has repeatedly denied any involvement in Alexey Navalny’s novichok poisoning.
The FBK has urged US President Joe Biden to impose sanctions on at least eight high-profile Russian personalities whom it says are close to Putin.
FBK executive director Vladimir Ashurkov, who signed the letter, told CNN on Saturday that the foundation was asking the United States to pressure Putin to release Navalny.
Zahra Ullah and Anna Chernova from CNN reported from Moscow and Laura Smith-Spark from London. CNN’s Frederik Pleitgen and Mary Ilyushina contributed to this report.