Police in Moscow have arrested two prominent associates of opposition politician Aleksei Navalny on charges of urging people to participate in an illegal public demonstration.
Navalny's spokeswoman, Kira Yarmysh, and Ruslan Shaveddinov, who hosts programs on Navalny's YouTube channel, were detained on January 30 at Moscow's Sheremetyevo airport and taken into custody. They were expected to appear in court on January 31.
On January 28, the two activists hosted an Internet broadcast covering a Navalny-organized national protest calling on Russians to boycott the March 18 presidential election.
Navalny, who is barred from participating in the election because of a felony embezzlement conviction that he says is politically motivated, has said the election amounts to "the reappointment" of President Vladimir Putin.
Navalny was himself arrested on his way to the January 28 protest in Moscow but was later released pending a court hearing. At least 350 people were detained nationwide.
U.S. State Department spokeswoman Heather Nauert on January 29 criticized the detentions, saying of Putin that "confident political leaders do not fear competing voices."