Russian protesters pelt police with snowballs as more than 2,000 arrested

Protesters used snowballs against police in Russia on Saturday as more than 2,000 people were arrested amid widespread demonstrations demanding the release of top Russian opposition leader Alexey Navalny.

Thousands of people across Russia protested against the arrest of Navalny after the vocal critic of Russian President Vladimir PutinVladimir Vladimirovich PutinEU 'denounces' Russian malicious cyber activity aimed at member states Navalny knocks Apple, Google for removing voting app Federal agencies warn companies to be on guard against prolific ransomware strain MORE was detained earlier this week upon his return to Russia.

Some were spotted demonstrating in subzero temperatures, while others used snowballs to pelt police, with officers engaging in numerous clashes with demonstrators, according to footage shared on social media.



More than 2,100 people have been arrested in the protests, according to OVD-Info, an arrests-monitoring group. Among those arrested were Navalny's wife and others close to him. 

Navalny is a prominent critic of Putin who survived an assassination attempt in Germany that he believes was orchestrated by the Kremlin. Authorities in Russia say Navalny’s trip to Germany violated the terms of the sentence for a criminal conviction he had in 2014. 

Navalny said the conviction in 2014 was based on unfair charges. He was arrested upon his return to the country on Jan. 17. Supporters argue his prior conviction was based on trumped-up claims and consider his recent arrest illegal, with demonstrators pouring into the streets in one of the biggest protests Russia has seen in years.

Western countries have condemned Russia for its acts against Navalny, though Moscow maintains that it is a domestic matter.

Navalny will go to court in February over the charges of fraud and money laundering, The Associated Press reported. The case will determine if he spends 3 ½ years behind bars.