Alexei Navalny, Putin's most prominent foe, detained at protest in Moscow

Alexei Navalny, Putin's most prominent foe, detained at protest in Moscow

Alexei Navalny, Putin's most prominent foe, detained at protest in Moscow

Given that last Monday's Telegram protests, which adopted a stark anti-Putin tone, the country's security services are looking to dampen mass dissent before the start of the president's new term in office.

Thousands of demonstrators crowded into one of Moscow's main squares on Saturday as part of nationwide protests against the upcoming inauguration of President Vladimir Putin to a new term. It said in a protest in Yakutsk in the far northeast, 75 were detained but all have since been released.

Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny was detained by police on Saturday after arriving at a rally in central Moscow to protest against President Vladimir Putin, an ally of the politician said.

Scuffles broke out between Navalny's supporters and pro-Kremlin activists who also packed Moscow's Pushkin Square in an apparent effort to sabotage the opposition demonstration.

Police made arrests at demonstrations in some other cities, but there was no overall figure immediately available.

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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. "I don't want to put up with this!" Police have broken up similar demonstrations in the past, sometimes harshly, detaining hundreds.

Pavel Kuznetsov, a 72-year-old pensioner wearing a T-shirt depicting Putin wearing a crown with a line through it, said he and others had turned up in Moscow to protest against what he said was an election created to keep a dictator in power.

He recorded his best ever election performance with more than 76 percent of the vote.

However, European observers said there had been no real choice in the election, and complained of unfair pressure on critical voices.