Putin critic Navalny is released after nationwide rallies prompt hundreds of arrests

Putin critic Navalny is released after nationwide rallies prompt hundreds of arrests

Putin critic Navalny is released after nationwide rallies prompt hundreds of arrests

The European Union on Saturday condemned "police brutality and mass arrests" as Russian authorities responded to protests in some 90 cities ahead of the inauguration of President Vladimir Putin for what will be his fourth presidential term.

The unauthorized rallies have continued in cities across Russian Federation, according to the BBC, with protesters shouting slogans including "Down with the Tsar!" and "Russia without Putin".

The question is whether those numbers would have been as high if Mr Navalny had accepted the Moscow authorities' offer to hold his protest at Sakharov Avenue.

Video showed police carrying a struggling Navalny out of the square, holding him by the legs and arms.

They chanted "Russia without Putin", "Putin is a thief" and "Out with the czar!"

Navalny rallied support for the nationwide movement on social media, calling for activists to attend and denounce Putin's autocratic rule under the slogan "He's Not Our Tsar".

That call was countered by mobs of Putin supporters who turned out in strength to rough up their idol's critics.

Russian officials, who require applications be filed and approved for rallies, did not issue a permit to Navalny for the protest in Pushkinskaya Square.

Al Jazeera's Rory Challands, reporting from Moscow, said it was hard to tell exactly how many people had shown up at the protests due to different estimations from police and protesters themselves.

Inspired by Donald Trump, this protester in Moscow makes his voice heard beneath a Make Russia Great Again hat.

Navalny had previously said Armenia should set "a good example for Russia" on how the persistence of people taking to the streets can drive change.

When is Putin's inauguration? . With nearly 77 percent of the vote and more than 56 million votes, his March election win was his biggest ever and the largest by any post-Soviet Russian leader, something he and his allies say gave him an unequivocal mandate to govern.

Furthermore, Ukraine and its worldwide partners call for the immediate release of illegally detained persons and ensuring their rights to peaceful protest against tyranny and injustice.

Elsewhere, many protesters were also detained in a rough manner, observers said.

"I'm not too sure what the protesters want, but, economically, we're fine", said a 37-year-old business analyst who would only give her first name, Olga, who happened upon the Moscow rally on her regular weekend walk.

U.S. State Department spokeswoman Heather Nauert posted on Twitter that the United States "condemns Russia's detention of hundreds of peaceful protesters and calls for their immediate release". His new presidential term will keep him in office until 2024, and Moscow is rife with speculation that the 65-year-old Putin will seek to remain in power for as long as he lives.

Related news