Pro-Navalny Rallies Planned in More Than 60 Russian Cities

Supporters of jailed Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny are taking to the streets of more than 60 Russian cities on Saturday to demand the Kremlin critic’s immediate release, defying the measures taken by police to break up the protests, which they have declared illegal.In Khabarovsk, a Russian city on the border with China, about 8,000 kilometers east of Moscow, pro-Navalny protesters clashed with police trying to prevent the gathering.Navalny’s associates in Moscow and elsewhere in Russia have already been detained in anticipation of the rallies.Police have warned opposition supporters against protesting and independent journalists against covering them.Russian universities have told students not to attend the pro-Navalny rallies, some threatening them with disciplinary action, including expulsion.The nationwide protests are the first organized by Navalny’s supporters since he returned from Germany, where he was recovering from poisoning by a nerve agent. He was arrested immediately on his arrival in Moscow.Navalny has openly accused President Vladimir Putin of ordering Russia’s security services to carry out the poisoning, a charge the Kremlin has repeatedly denied.The United States and other western countries have strongly condemned Navalny’s arrest and demanded his unconditional release. 

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