Supporters of Russian opposition politician Aleksei Navalny in several cities have been detained a day before planned protests against President Vladimir Putin, who starts a new term on May 7.
Supporters of the fierce Putin critic foe and organizers of the May 5 rally, which Navalny is calling He's Not Our Tsar, were detained in St. Petersburg, Cheboksary, Kemerovo, Tambov, Ryazan, Krasnoyarsk, and Krasnodar on May 4.
All those detained were charged with violating regulations for holding public gatherings.
In the Urals city of Yekaterinburg, meanwhile, police searched Navalny’s regional headquarters and confiscated leaflets advertising the May 5 rally.
A coordinator for Navalny the southern city of Volgograd, Aleksei Volkov, wrote on Twitter that students at local schools were forced to sign papers acknowledging that they could face serious consequences, including expulsion, if they take part in the rally.
Putin, who has been president or prime minister since 1999, is to be sworn in to a new six-year presidential term on May 7 after winning a March 18 election that opponents said was marred by fraud and international observers said gave voters no real choice.
Navalny, who has organized large street protests and published a series of reports alleging corruption in Russia's ruling elite, was barred from the presidential ballot due to a conviction on financial-crimes charges he contends were fabricated.