Alexei Navalny arrested as thousands in Russian Federation demonstrate against Vladimir Putin inauguration

Anti-Kremlin protesters poured into the streets of Moscow after Navalny had called for demonstrations in more than 90 towns and cities across Russian Federation against what he says is Putin's autocratic, tsar-like rule.

Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny (C) attends a protest rally ahead of President Vladimir Putin's inauguration ceremony, Moscow, Russia May 5, 2018.

"Even if some of the demonstrations were not authorized in the location where they took place, this can not justify police brutality and mass arrests", the statement said, adding that the European Union expected Russian Federation to "release without delay peaceful demonstrators and journalists".

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".

Russian President Vladimir Putin's most popular critic Alexey Navalny has been arrested at a protest against the president.

Putin, nevertheless, emerged victor in the election bagging 77 per cent of the votes and he is now the longest-serving leader of Russian Federation since Joseph Stalin who was at the helm for 30 years.

Police said they detained about 300 protesters for public order defenses Saturday, according to Russian state-run news agency TASS.

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Earlier on Saturday, protesters rallied in towns and cities in Russia's Far East and Siberia and some of those protests were violently broken up. Protesters were shouting "shame on you" at police officers as people were being taken away.

Independent monitors said the election was marred by a lack of genuine competition even though fewer irregularities were reported than in previous years. The office then warned the protesters that other venues where they were planning to march were unauthorized. It cited its sources at the Moscow protest as saying pro-Kremlin Cossacks had beaten protesters with leather whips, sparking a fight.

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

He was one of more than 1,600 people that police detained during the protests.

Ahead of Saturday's rallies, several organizers from Navalny's group were detained in a number of regions.

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. Approximately 40 of them - some dressed in Soviet military uniforms and singing with an accordion player - confronted the Navalny supporters, yelling slogans at them.

  • Adam Floyd