The wife of Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny is arrested as mass protests defy Putin and call for his release from prison

The wife of Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny is arrested as mass protests defy Putin and call for his release from prison
People clash with police during a protest against the jailing of opposition leader Alexei Navalny in St. Petersburg, Russia on January 23, 2021.Dmitri Lovetsky
  • Russian opposition leader Alex Navalny's wife, Yulia Navalnaya, has been arrested.
  • She has become one of more than 1,600 people arrested during protests calling for his release from prison.
  • Navalny's arrest is for violating a 2014 fraud sentence but many believe it is politically motivated.

Russian opposition leader Alex Navalny's wife, Yulia Navalnaya, has become one of more than 1,600 arrested during protests for his release from prison.

She was detained in Moscow during one of 60 protests planned across different Russian cities on Saturday, according to the OVD-info monitoring group, with temperatures plummeting to below -50°F in some areas.

Navalny was arrested on Sunday after flying back to Russia from Germany. He had spent the last five months recovering from an almost fatal nerve agent attack in August, the BBC reported.
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The opposition leader is one of Vladimir Putin's most outspoken critics and blamed the attack on the Kremlin, which has denied any involvement in the incident.

Yulia Navalnaya posted an image of herself on Instagram, captioned: "Sorry for the poor quality. Very bad light in the paddy wagon."

A post shared by @yulia_navalnaya

While the Russian authorities said 4,000 people took part in the demonstrations, according to The Washington Post, an estimated 40,000 people actually took part, Reuters reported, with some also held in the former Soviet states of Lithuania and Estonia.
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Many were organized on TikTok using the hashtags #freenavalny and #23Jan. Russia's media watchdog, Roskomnadzor, told the company to remove ones encouraging minors to get involved, Deutsche Welle noted.Navalny's arrest comes days after his Anti-Corruption Foundation, or FBK, released a report and YouTube video accusing Putin of secretly building a secret $1b palace near Gelendzhik on the Black Sea funded by bribes, which the Kremlin has also denied.
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Other prominent figures arrested include politician Lev Shlosberg, who has a seat in Russia's northwestern Pskov Regional Assembly, tweeted the news by saying: "Detained by the police."

Lyubov Sobol, a lawyer for FBK and activist, was also detained at the protest, as was Navalny's spokeswoman Kira Yarmysh, according to Deutsche Welle.

The US, France, and Canada have all called for Alex Navalny's release while the EU imposed sanctions on Russia over his arrest.
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He was imprisoned for 30 days for violating the terms of a 2014 suspended sentence he received for fraud charges, which the 44-year-old maintains are politically motivated, Deutsche Welle added.

Navalny is set to appear in court early next month, where he will be told if he will serve more than three and a half years in jail or not, the London Evening Standard noted.

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