More than 1,700 people were detained by police at rallies in support of jailed Kremlin critic Alexei Navalny in dozens of cities across Russia, an independent monitor reported yesterday.
Thousands of people took to the streets Wednesday evening to demanded freedom and proper medical attention for Navalny, who has been hunger strike for three weeks in a penal colony outside Moscow.
The opposition staged demonstrations in dozens of Russian cities, with the largest rallies taking place in Moscow.
The OVD-Info monitoring group, which tracks detentions at opposition protests, said that by yesterday morning police had detained "more than 1,783 people in 97 cities".
In Russia, participation in unauthorised demonstrations can lead to a fine or several days in jail.
The majority of detentions -- 805 -- took place in Saint Petersburg, where police violently dispersed crowds with shock sticks.
Navalny's press secretary Kira Yarmysh was among those detained. She was given a 10-day stint behind bars for calling on people to join unauthorised rallies.
Key Navalny aide Lyubov Sobol was also taken into police custody ahead of the rally in Moscow and was due to appear in court later yesterday.
Wednesday's rallies did not match in size those held in the winter when Navalny was arrested after returning to Russia from Germany.