Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny freed after being arrested during protests

Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny freed after being arrested during protests

Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny has been freed after a brief spell in police detention in Moscow as thousands rallied against a March election expected to extend Vladimir Putin's Kremlin term.

However, supporters of Mr Navalny have claimed that police said they were looking into reports there was a bomb in the office.

Reports indicate around 200 protesters have been arrested across Russian Federation.

Navalny * a href="https://newswire.storyful.com/storylines/*/stories/190945?q=navalny" target="_blank" rel="nofollow noopener" *called for the demonstrations to take place after he was disqualified from standing in the 2018 Russian presidential election due to a criminal record stemming from 2013 embezzlement charges.

Navalny had demanded that he be allowed to run in the election against Putin. A dramatic video posted to Twitter shows police detaining Navalny and forcing him into a police vehicle.

Blogger Alexei Navalny was detained in central Moscow on Sunday for violating rally organization's regulations, the Moscow police's press service told TASS on Sunday.

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Authorities dramatically beefed up security in the centre of Moscow, dispatching police vans and passenger buses to Tverskaya Avenue, the Russian capital's main thoroughfare.

In Moscow, a few thousand people streamed down the city's central avenue, gathering at Pushkin Square around half a mile from the Kremlin. Many marchers reportedly took to chanting, "Putin is a thief". "This doesn't mean anything ... you didn't come out for me, but for your future".

The message urged parents to make sure their children do not attend the Sunday protests.

Eight staff members from Navalny's Moscow offices were detained in the raid and were among 185 people arrested across the country, according to independent monitoring group OVD-Info. "These are real citizens". Police searched Navalny's campaign offices in several cities ahead of the protests. About 200 people were detained at Navalny rallies throughout the country Sunday, the opposition-leaning news site Meduza reported.

Video in this story shows demonstrators at the Square of Fighters for the Power of Soviets in the Far East in Vladivostok.

Navalny, a lawyer and anti-corruption activist, is gaining name recognition, if not widespread support from Russia's public.

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Municipal authorities said the protests were not approved and threatened legal action against Navalny.

"They are, like, fake", Ruslan Borodinov, a 25-year-old butcher at the Moscow protest said of the other candidates.

In an exclusive interview with CNN at his Moscow headquarters last week, Navalny accused the Putin administration of being "built on corruption" and warned of growing impatience for political change.

Navalny emerged as a threat to the Kremlin's tight grip on power on June 12 past year, when thousands of his followers defied police prohibitions to protest in cities across Russian Federation.

The softer approach suggested authorities have adapted their tactics to Navalny, avoiding the mass arrests that had made global headlines a year ago and instead focusing on detaining the protests' organizers.

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