PROTESTS against Vladimir Putin are underway across Russia in temperatures as low as -15C - with police forcibly detaining supporters of Alexei Navalny.
Demonstrators shouted "shame, shame" in Vladivostok as heavily armed baton-wielding special forces officers and national guards threw a protester in a police vehicle.Anti-Putin protesters have clashed with cops across RussiaCredit: AFP or licensors The protests in Russia have turned bloodyCredit: AFP or licensors Heavily armed baton-wielding special forces officers and national guards arrested protesters Credit: AP:Associated Press Hundreds of people across the country have been arrested, according to reportsCredit: Alamy Live News
The authorities told crowds that their actions were unsanctioned and they faced detention unless they dispersed.
And nearly 2,000 people have already been detained, according to Reuters.
Among those detained is Yulia Navalnaya, the wife of Kremlin critic Navalny - who was leading the rally in Moscow in support of her husband.
She previously said she would join the demonstration "for myself, for him, for our children, for the values and the ideals that we share”.
Ugly scenes quickly developed at protests in several cities in the Russian Far East.
Key Navalny aides around Russia had been rounded up and detained ahead of the rallies.
In far-eastern city Khabarovsk, crowds chanted "Putin’s Dogs" as law enforcement detained protesters.
At one point crowds fought back, with police seeking to release those being held.
In Kamchatka, nine time zones east of Moscow, protesters carried placards reading "Corruption is the cancer of our country" and "I’m choosing Freedom".
While crowds were not huge, protests went ahead in all main cities in the Russian Far East, including former Gulag staging post Magadan where temperatures reached -30C.
In Yakutsk - the world’s coldest city - crowds gathered in -51C to support jailed Navalny - who was earlier allegedly poisoned with nerve agent Novichok by an FSB secret service hit squad.
A video showed police pulling a protester on the snow into a law enforcement bus as cries directed to police are heard: "What have they done? What are you doing? Are you out of your mind doing that?"
Among the protesters in eastern cities were mothers carrying babies.
In Siberia city Ulan-Ude, extra Saturday classes were put on to prevent school students joining the unsanctioned protests - which the authorities said were illegal.
In Komsomolsk-on-Amur a squad of riot police detained a dozen people, as the crowd chanted: "Freedom to political prisoners!"
Navalny’s supporters say his arrest when he returned from Germany on Sunday was politically motivated.The protests in downtown Moscow today have turned violentCredit: AFP or licensors Russian police are arresting protesters demanding the release of top Russian opposition leader Alexei NavalnyCredit: AP:Associated Press Navalny, 44, was detained last Sunday upon returning to Moscow after five months in GermanyCredit: Alamy Live News Protesters clash with riot police during the rallyCredit: AFP or licensors
Reports suggest he may be hit with new legal action that could see him remain behind bars for more than a decade.
Navalny - a 44-year-old lawyer who has dedicated himself to toppling strongman Putin - styles himself an anti-corruption campaigner who despite being behind bars in recent days accused the Russian president of using state cash to enrich himself and his family.
Among the claims is that Putin has built himself a £1billion palace at Gelendzhik on the Black Sea.
Putin denies any wrongdoing.
The Kremlin has denied being “afraid” of Navalny and his pro-democracy campaigners but are concerned to act tough to prevent mass support growing for a Ukrainian-style revolution.
In Moscow, mayor Sergei Sobyanin had warned the rallies were "unacceptable" during a pandemic, and police would take action to ensure public order.
Over 250 detentions were reported across Russia by 1pm Moscow time, with an initial 32 held in the capital.
But the total number detained is now thought to exceed 1,300.
In Vladivostok, it was reported that 26 children had been detained.
But Vladimir Putin’s children’s ombudsman angrily blamed adult protesters for using children as a “human shield”.
She said: "Now I know everything about human baseness.
“Vladivostok - children are standing in a human chain.
“And adults behind their backs are throwing road cones at riot police and hiding again.
“Who are these people? Are they people?”
Protesters said mobile data was being disrupted around protest sites to stop communications between anti-Putin protesters.
Leonid Volkov, an ally of Alexei Navalny, said on Saturday that the opposition would hold more protests next weekend to demand Navalny's release.
Natalia Zviagina, Amnesty International’s Russia Director said: “Russian authorities relentlessly unleash reprisals against peaceful protesters what we saw today has only confirmed this.
"The police ignored their duty to guarantee the right to peaceful assembly and instead indiscriminately beat and arbitrarily arrested protesters, many of whom were young people.
“This display of unbridled power sought to dampen the wave of discontent prompted by the arbitrary detention of Aleksei Navalny and the publication of his latest investigation, which revealed the gargantuan scale of corruption at the top of government.
"We demand the immediate and unconditional release of all peaceful protesters and other civil society activists who have been subjected to “preventative” arrests on spurious charges, including staff members of Navalny’s Anti-Corruption Foundation."Protesters braved the below-freezing temperaturesCredit: AP:Associated Press The rallies across Russia have turned violent Credit: AP:Associated Press The Kremlin has denied being “afraid” of NavalnyCredit: Reuters In Yakutsk - the world’s coldest city - crowds gathered in -51C to support jailed NavalnyCredit: AFP or licensors One protester being dragged away by copsCredit: Reuters President Vladimir Putin has denied any wrongdoing he has been accused ofCredit: AP:Associated Press Protesters in Moscow, RussiaCredit: EPA Alexei Navalny, 44, has dedicated himself to toppling strongman PutinCredit: EPA
Vladimir Putin’s ‘secret £1billion palace’ with lap-dancing den, casino and tunnel leading to private beach