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AFP
April 23, 2021

Kremlin downplays pro-Navalny rallies after nearly 1,800 detained

AFP
April 23, 2021

MOSCOW: The Kremlin on Thursday downplayed opposition protests in support of jailed opposition figure Alexei Navalny that saw nearly 1,800 people detained across Russia.

Thousands of people took to the streets on Wednesday to demand freedom and proper medical attention for Navalny, who has been on a hunger strike for three weeks in a penal colony outside Moscow.

The opposition staged unauthorised demonstrations in dozens of Russian cities, with the largest rallies in Moscow. Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov told reporters on Thursday that he saw "no reason" to comment on the protests. "I am not aware that anywhere the rallies were held in a legal manner," Peskov said.

He added that the "main event of yesterday" was President Vladimir Putin’s televised state of the nation address. In his annual speech to lawmakers and regional governors, which lasted close to 80 minutes, Putin made no mention of Navalny or the protests. The OVD-Info monitoring group, which tracks detentions at opposition protests, said that by Thursday afternoon it had recorded the detentions of at least 1,791 people in 98 cities.