Supporters of the jailed opposition leader argue with police as Moscow quells protests in dozens of cities.
Scuffles erupted as supporters of jailed Russian opposition leader Alexey Navalny gathered in Khabarovsk on Saturday, as authorities took elaborate measures to curb planned protests in more than 60 Russian cities.
In Moscow, which usually mobilizes the largest gatherings, protesters plan to meet in central Pushkin Square at 2 p.m. (11 a.m. GMT) and march towards the Kremlin.
In an Instagram post, Navalny’s wife Yulia said she would join the protest in Moscow. “For me, for him, for our children, for the values and ideals we share,” she said.
City mayor Sergei Sobyanin said the call for rallies was “unacceptable” during a pandemic and warned that police would take measures to ensure public order.
Navalny’s associates in Moscow and other regions were arrested in anticipation of the rallies.
44-year-old anti-corruption activist and the fiercest critic of the Kremlin, Navalny was arrested on his return from Germany to Russia on Sunday, where he had spent nearly five months recovering from poisoning by nerve agents ‘he attributes to the government.
On Monday, a judge ordered Navalny to jail for 30 days.
Opposition supporters and independent journalists were approached by police officers with official warnings against Saturday’s protests.
Universities and colleges in different regions of Russia have urged students not to attend the rallies, with some saying they could face disciplinary action, including expulsion.
Many Navalny allies have voiced their support for the rallies on social media this week.
Thousands of videos have appeared on the popular teenage TikTok app, which has become an emerging way for Russians to express their political views.
The Russian media watchdog has warned online platforms against encouraging minors to participate in rallies or risking heavy fines.
Russia’s most popular social network, VKontakte, has blocked groups created to coordinate protests in different cities.
Navalny faces several years in prison. Authorities accused him of violating the terms of a suspended sentence during a conviction in 2014 for financial mischief, including when he was recovering in Germany.
After his arrest, his team opened an investigation into a lavish Black Sea property believed to have belonged to President Vladimir Putin, a claim the Kremlin denied.
The two-hour video report has been viewed more than 64 million times since its release on Tuesday, becoming the most-watched YouTube survey by the Kremlin critic.
Navalny’s arrest drew widespread condemnation from the West, with the United States, the European Union, France and Canada all calling for his release.