Russian opposition leader released following arrest amid anti-Putin protests

Russian opposition leader released following arrest amid anti-Putin protests
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Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny was released from police custody on Sunday after he was arrested on Saturday during demonstrations ahead of Vladimir Putin's presidential inauguration, The Guardian reported.

“It appears the order ‘don’t jail until the inauguration’ came through,” said Navalny, according to the news outlet.

Navalny, who was one of more than 1,600 people arrested during protests in cities across Russia, has reportedly been ordered to appear in court on Friday. He faces 30 days in jail on charges of disobeying police and organizing unlawful protests, the newspaper reported.

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In Moscow alone, more than 700 protesters were arrested. According to The Guardian, the police have been criticized for allowing people claiming to be Cossacks — people who served as cavalrymen along the southern border in czarist Russia — to attack opposition supporters.

The Russian government has in recent years encouraged the revival of the Cossacks, the newspaper reported. In some cities, they have acted as supplementary police forces and regularly patrol streets in search of immigrants in the country illegally.

The protests on Saturday came just a few days before Putin is set to be inaugurated for his fourth presidential term.

Putin’s election, which he won with 77 percent of the vote, has been criticized for a number of voting irregularities. President TrumpDonald John TrumpTrump says he doesn't want NYT in the White House Veterans group backs lawsuits to halt Trump's use of military funding for border wall Schiff punches back after GOP censure resolution fails MORE, nonetheless, called Putin to congratulate him on his victory.