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Alexei Navalny calls for protests across Russian Federation over March elections

Alexei Navalny calls for protests across Russian Federation over March elections

Video footage posted on social media showed Navalny appear on Moscow's main thoroughfare, Tverskaya Street, a few hundred meters from the Kremlin, to join several hundred supporters taking part in the protest, which the authorities had said was illegal.

Navalny, no stranger to public dissent and arrests, called for Sunday's protests last month after he was barred from running in March's presidential elections against Putin, who will be seeking his fourth term and whose victory is all but a foregone conclusion.

"Vladimir Putin has once again thrown Alexei Navalny in jail because he is afraid of his own people-and what they would do if they were free", Cotton said in a statement. Police had also claimed there was a bomb threat for their forced entry into Navalny's Anti-corruption Foundation's building in Moscow.

"Your own life is at stake", Mr Navalny, who organised the boycott protests, said in a pre-protest video. From Krasnodar to Yakutsk, where the meeting took place at -40.

Photographs posted on the Internet by Navalny's supporters showed about 14 policemen gathered outside his office door. "You don't go for me, but for yourself and your future".

Around 240 people were detained across the country, according to OVD-Info, an independent group which monitors crackdowns on demonstrations.

"I don't see any other way to register my protest", said Anna Kanunikova, a 32-year-old English translator, who was carrying a Russian flag.

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"These are not elections because we already know the result", Elena Ruzhe, 62, told AFP in Moscow.

Russian police raided Navalny's Moscow office Sunday morning, according to the Associated Press.

That ruling came days after the Constitutional Court refused to review a complaint from Navalny over the Central Election Commission's decision in December to bar him from the presidential election.

They called for Navalny to be freed after his detention earlier in the day.

"I want change", Andrei Petrov, 20, told AFP in the former imperial capital.

As a police announcement intoned that walkways had to be kept clear, protesters shouted, "Putin's War", "Protest" and "Boycott".

Mr Putin, who refuses to mention Mr Navalny by name, retains a massive approval rating in Russian Federation and is widely expected to win a fourth six-year term in office.