Russian Opposition Leader Alexei Navalny was detained, and later released, after appearing at a Moscow rally to boycott the upcoming presidential election. Protesters gathered across Russia 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. Many of the crowds that turned out in generally frigid weather skewed sharply young, apparently reflecting growing discontent among Russians who have lived most or all of their lives under President Vladimir Putin, who came to power on New Year's Eve 1999.
"As long as I've been alive, Putin has always been in. I'm tired of nothing being changed," said 19-year-old Vlad Ivanov, one of about 1,500 protesters who assembled in St. Petersburg. Navalny, Putin's most prominent foe, organized the protests to urge a boycott of Russia's March 18 presidential election, in which Putin is sure to win a fourth term. He was wrestled to the ground and forced into a police bus as he walked toward the demonstration on Moscow's Pushkin Square.
Protests were reported in dozens of cities, from the Pacific Coast to the Baltic Sea exclave of Kaliningrad. Navalny's web page showed a small group of protesters in remote Yakutsk, where it was –45 C. A crowd that police estimated at 1,000 people, but appeared larger, assembled in central Pushkin Square, brandishing placards reading "They've stolen the election from us" and "Elections without Navalny are fake."