dpa/GNA – A day of protests showing support for imprisoned Russian dissident Alexei Navalny and anger at state oppression began on Saturday with the first arrests in the country’s far east.

In the city of Khabarovsk, which is seven hours ahead of the capital Moscow due to the time difference, activists shared video footage of police officers beating demonstrators and bundling them into a van.

The protests in Khabarovsk also focused on the arrest of the city’s popular former governor, Sergei Furgal.

Hundreds of protesters also took to the streets in Vladivostok and Irkutsk, braving freezing-cold temperatures. They shouted slogans like “We are the powerful” and “Putin is a liar.”

Navalny’s supporters have announced protests in more than 90 cities throughout Russia on Saturday.

The rallies, announced on social media, have not been given permits, however, and Kremlin spokesperson Dmitry Peskov has warned members of the public not to participate in unsanctioned protests.
Demonstrations have been banned for months due to regulations to control the pandemic.

The authorities have also clamped down on Navalny’s associates and supporters, detaining several of his aides, including his press secretary Kira Yarmysh.

Navalny, who returned from Germany last weekend, where he had been recovering from an assassination attempt with the nerve agent Novichok, was sentenced to 30 days of pretrial detention at a snap trial on Monday.

The Russian judiciary says Navalny was sentenced for violating parole from an earlier sentence by travelling to Germany for his recovery.

Navalny and his team criticized the process as a politically motivated attempt to silence him.

The EU imposed sanctions after the poisoning, which Navalny blames on President Vladimir Putin and said was carried out by a hit squad made up of members of the Russian domestic intelligence service FSB, allegations Putin and the FSB deny.

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