Russian opposition leader detained at protest

Supporters of Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny attend a rally for a boycott of a March 18

Earlier in the day opposition supporters protested in far eastern Russian Federation and Siberia, including in the northern city of Yakutsk where people rallied despite temperatures of around minus 45 Celsius (minus 49 Fahrenheit). Protestors say people have not been given any choice and their candidate is not allowed to run.

Navalny is barred from standing in the election due a fraud conviction which he contests as politically motivated.

Navalny's spox Kira Yarmysh said that over the past week, police raided 78 out of 84 regional headquarters of his regional offices, searching the premises to seize leaflets and other materials calling for an "unsanctioned rally".

"Your own life is at stake", Mr Navalny, who organised the boycott protests, said in a pre-protest video.

The Washington Post reports that thousands swarmed the streets of Russian Federation but there were not as many people as demonstrations that occurred last June. "You are not going there for me, it's for you and your future", Navalny tweeted after his arrest.

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

"To be honest, I don't support especially Navalny", Pavel Tikhonov, a 29-year-old who works for an global company, tells NPR's Kim.

Authorities beefed up security, dispatching police vans and passenger buses to the city centre, but police largely refrained from arresting protesters.

Mr Navalny was detained by police in central Moscow on Sunday after he made a brief appearance at a rally.

Images broadcast online by supporters of Mr Navalny showed officers arriving at the building on Sunday morning and beginning to question people, with spokeswoman Kira Yarmysh claiming they used an angle grinder to gain entry.

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As the crowd grew in Moscow, walking out of the subway stop where the protests were held meant walking into a mass of bodies at the top step.

In power as president or prime minister for nearly two decades, Putin is almost certain to win another six-year term as president March 18.

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

The rally was called to protest the upcoming polls which are expected to extend President Putin's term to 2024.

He has condemned those charges as trumped up, saying they are created to thwart his political ambitions.

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

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