Russian presidential vote: Navalny offices raided on day of protests

Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny leaves the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) in Strasbourg, 24 January 2018Image copyright
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Alexei Navalny has said that the upcoming Russian presidential election is “dishonest”

Police in Moscow have raided the offices of Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny ahead of nationwide rallies supporting an election boycott.

Footage posted on Mr Navalny’s official YouTube channel shows officers entering a studio and questioning staff.

Mr Navalny has called for demonstrations on Sunday against Russia’s presidential election, which will be held on 18 March.

President Putin’s most vocal critic is barred from standing in the election.

In some of the online footage, Russian police can be seen at the property of Mr Navalny’s anti-corruption organisation in Moscow. In one YouTube clip, a broadcast recording is interrupted.

A spokesman for Mr Navalny said the officers used a power tool to break into the office, adding that they said they were investigating a bomb threat.

The raid coincides with a day of planned nationwide street protests against an upcoming vote that Mr Navalny says is rigged.

Rallies, not sanctioned by the authorities, are planned in more than 100 towns and cities on Sunday.

A total of 27 people have so far been detained across Russia, including several at Mr Navalny’s Moscow offices, according to reports.

Hundreds of people gathered in the main square of the port of Vladivostok in the eastern Russian city of Vladivostok.

Other protests are taking place in Novosibirsk, Kurgan, Omsk, Magadan, Kemerovo and Yakutsk.

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Mr Navalny’s supporters attend a rally in the city of Vladivostok calling for a boycott of the election

The demonstrations come after weeks of pressure on Mr Navalny’s supporters across Russia, who have faced detentions and had leaflets in support of the rallies confiscated.

Mr Navalny, who insists he would beat Mr Putin in a fair fight, is barred from running in the ballot over a criminal conviction that he says is politically motivated.

The 41-year-old led mass street protests against Mr Putin in the winter of 2011-12 and was arrested three times in 2017 for organising unauthorised anti-Putin protests.

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

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