More than 1,000 protesters were detained across Russia on Monday after the opposition leader Alexei Navalny raised the stakes in his battle with the Kremlin by calling on Muscovites to gatecrash a historical re-enactment fair being held on the Russian capital’s central street. As the president, Vladimir Putin, spoke of national unity at a ceremony in the Kremlin, a few hundred metres away on Tverskaya Street cordons of riot police moved against protesters.
As of early evening, nearly 700 people had been detained in Moscow and as many as 900 in St Petersburg, according to rights groups. Police confirmed 650 detentions in the two cities. Smaller numbers of protesters were detained in other cities.
Navalny was arrested at his block of flats before he could even make his way to the protest. His Twitter account posted a photograph of two police cars and at least seven officers outside the building just before his arrest, along with the words: “Happy Russia Day!”