Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny arrested in Moscow after Putin protest

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Protesters gathered across Russian Federation on Sunday to support opposition leader Alexei Navalny's call to boycott the March presidential election, and Navalny himself was arrested while walking to the Moscow demonstration.

Earlier in the day, the Russian Police raided Navalny's Moscow office, questioning supporters and shutting off his online television broadcast and detaining some officials.

Navalny has said he would use the full force of his campaign - including over 200,000 volunteers - to organise "voters' strikes" and encourage Russians to stay away from polling stations on election day.

Mr Navalny, 41, who has been barred from running in the election and whose office was raided by police on Sunday morning , urged his backers to continue to demonstrate despite being detained.

Putin, 65, has been in power, either as president or prime minister, since 2000, longer than veteran Soviet leader Leonid Brezhnev and outstripped only by dictator Josef Stalin. "We expect that the election will be declared illegal and that there will be a new election in which our candidate, Alexei Navalny, will be able to stand". "But that doesn't matter", Navalny's Twitter feed said Sunday afternoon alongside a video showing him being pulled into a police bus.

"You are not rallying for me, but for yourselves and your future", he tweeted.

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And the protests have continued Sunday. They arrested two workers there.

In Moscow on Sunday, the protesters who had accompanied Navalny until his detention were at times hard to distinguish from the flow of shoppers and sight-seers on Tverskaya Street.

"From the FBK office to the headquarters in Kemerovo".

Navalny commands strong support from young educated urbanites and what little remains of Russia's beleaguered pro-democratic elements from the 1990s, while his opposition to Moscow's support of pro-Russian separatists in the war in eastern Ukraine and Russia's military intervention to support Syria's Bashar al-Assad has put him in the crosshairs of most Russian lawmakers. "These are real citizens". "Go out to the demo in your city".

"These are not elections because we already know the result", Elena Ruzhe, 62, told AFP in Moscow. In polar Murmansk, just a handful of people milled about under a giant New Year's tree while children played nearby.

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