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More than 1,300 arrested in Russia-wide protests against Putin

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MOSCOW — Opposition politician Alexei Navalny and more than 1,300 of his supporters were arrested Saturday during demonstrations against the recently re-elected Russian President Vladimir Putin.

Navalny’s arrest occurred in Moscow’s city center, according to organizers, one of 90 cities across the country where supporters turned out in droves to demonstrate against Putin Saturday — two days before Putin is scheduled to be sworn in for another six-year term.

Police arrested 1,350 people nationwide during the demonstrations, human rights portal OVD-Info reported. No official numbers were available from Russian authorities.

According to OVD-Info, the most arrests, 600, were in Moscow. The numbers were much lower in several Siberian cities, including Barnaul and Krasnoyarsk. There were no incidents in other cities, like Vladivostok and Irkutsk, demonstration organizers said.

In many places, the demonstrations had been cleared with officials. However, in Moscow, the city said the declared meeting point had been barred off, while in St. Petersburg, a surprise rehearsal for a military parade had been scheduled.

Russian authorities had earlier tried to prevent demonstrators from coming out by making arrests in several cities and raiding the offices of Navalny’s organization.

According to opposition members, Navalny spent Friday night at a conspirator’s apartment to avoid being arrested before the event Saturday.

Anti-corruption activist Navalny was prohibited from running in the March presidential election in which Putin won 77 per cent of the vote for his fourth term as president. Putin has now been in power as president or prime minister for nearly two decades.

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