Navalny aide calls for fresh anti-Kremlin rallies

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A senior aide to jailed opposition figure Alexei Navalny called Monday for fresh anti-government demonstrations this weekend, days after tens of thousands rallied across Russia to denounce Kremlin rule.

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Leonid Volkov, the head of the opposition politician’s regional network, called on Twitter for Russians across the country to take to the streets on Sunday “for Navalny’s freedom, for freedom for all, and for justice.”

Russian police on Saturday detained more than 3,500 people, a record for a single day, at rallies in over 100 cities across the country where demonstrators were calling for Navalny’s release and protesting the government.

The 44-year-old anti-graft campaigner was detained earlier this month on his arrival to Moscow from Germany, where he had been recovering following a poisoning attack with the Novichok nerve agent.

His team spurred on his call for the rallies last weekend by releasing an investigation into a lavish property on Russia’s Black Sea coast that Navalny alleged is owned by President Vladimir Putin.

The Russian leader on Monday denied ownership of the sprawling mansion, saying: “Nothing that is listed there as my property belongs to me or my close relatives, and never did.”

Volkov called on Russians to rally again to put pressure on the authorities to release Navalny before he is due in court on February 2 on charges of breaking the terms of a 2014 suspended sentence.

The Kremlin critic could be jailed for more than three years if the court rules in favor of Russia’s prison service, which says Navalny failed to check in with it twice per month while he was recovering in Germany.

Volkov said that if protesters take to the streets ahead of the February 2 hearing “our demand will sound more powerful.”

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