Russian opposition leader and activists held before Putin inauguration

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Among those arrested was protest organizer Alexei Navalny, the anti-corruption campaigner who is Putin's most prominent foe.

Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny has been released from detention after he was arrested on Saturday amid widespread protests against President Vladimir Putin.

"We will force the authorities, made up of swindlers and thieves, to take into account the millions of citizens who did not vote for Putin", Navalny said beforehand.

Thousands took part in the rally in Moscow's Pushkinskaya Square, where some protesters were detained by police and thrown into buses as the crowd chanted anti-Putin slogans.

Tough police action: The Russian human rights portal OVD-Info said almost 1,600 people were arrested at the nationwide demonstrations on Saturday and that police also used batons against protesters.

It's not that far from the centre and he was happy to show up there last Monday, when thousands turned up to protest against government attempts to shut down the messaging app Telegram.

Furthermore, Ukraine and its global partners call for the immediate release of illegally detained persons and ensuring their rights to peaceful protest against tyranny and injustice.

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.

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"I think that Putin isn't worthy of leading this country".

Numerous protesters were charged with the administrative violation of disobeying police and are being released pending hearings.

"I'm not actually very political as a person - I have no allegiance to any party - but fighting corruption is important", said a 26-year-old programmer at the Moscow rally who would only give his first name, Alexander.

Putin, 65, has been in power, either as president or prime minister, since 2000.

This year Putin's minders are planning a fairly low-key inauguration ceremony that will not include a lavish Kremlin reception in an apparent effort to eschew any bad publicity, TV Rain, an independent channel, reported Friday, citing informed sources.

Putin has dismissed Navalny as a troublemaker bent on sowing chaos on behalf of Washington.

Ahead of the protests, supporters of Navalny were detained in six Russian cities, being held on charges of violating public assembly laws and resisting arrest.

European observers said there had been no real choice in the election, and complained of unfair pressure on critical voices. Critics like Navalny accuse Putin of overseeing a corrupt authoritarian system and of illegally annexing Ukraine's Crimea in 2014, a move that isolated Russian Federation internationally.

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