European Union condemns Russian Federation protest arrests, police brutality

Russians angered by the impending inauguration of Vladimir Putin to a new term as president protested Saturday in scores of cities across the country - and police responded by reportedly arresting almost 1,600 of them.

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.

Mr Navalny, who has been repeatedly detained and jailed for organising similar protests in the past, called for rallies in more than 90 towns and cities, including Moscow and St Petersburg where protests started start at 11am.

Navalny said in a tweet that he was released shortly after midnight on Sunday, after police "registered two protocols against me: organization of a rally and resistance of the police".

Police detained about 300 people at the "unauthorized rally", according to Russian state-run news agency TASS.

Putin won re-election overwhelmingly in March, extending his grip over Russian Federation for six more years - a tenure of 24 years that would make him Moscow's longest-serving leader since Soviet dictator Josef Stalin.

Thousands of protesters in central Moscow chanted "Putin is a thief" and "Russia without Putin".

Riot police officers formed wedges and began thrusting into the crowd and grabbing protesters seemingly at random.

"Again we had dishonest elections", Mr. Ivancheko said.

It will be Putin's fourth term as president, delivering him six more years as leader, and ultimately seeing him in power for 24 years.

"Navalny appeared on Pushkinskaya (Square) and was quickly detained", Leonid Volkov, an opposition politician, said in an online broadcast.

When is Putin's inauguration? .

This time Putin will instead meet with volunteers who took part in his election campaign, the television channel said.

The Moscow Times report said by the time Navalny's supporters gathered at Pushkin Square at the capital around 2 pm local time, hundreds of pro-Kremlin "volunteer" militia had already been there.

Latest polls show the 65-year-old continues to enjoy an approval rating of over 80 percent, with many crediting him with having restored national pride and expanded Moscow's global clout with interventions in Syria and Ukraine. Critics like Navalny accuse Putin of overseeing a corrupt authoritarian system and of annexing Ukraine's Crimea illegally in 2014, a move that isolated Russian Federation internationally.

Saturday's protests also followed a peaceful rally attended by more than 12,000 people in Moscow earlier this week to protest the ban of popular messaging app Telegram.

  • Rogelio Becker