Poles stage protests in defence of Kremlin critic

Protests were staged in Poland's capital and the southern city of Krakow on Saturday in defence of Kremlin critic Alexei Navalny, detained in Russia on January 17. Protesters demanded the release of Navalny and all political prisoners in Russia.

A Russian living in Poland said that the Saturday protests were designed to support Navalny, and added that similar rallies in his defence as well as in defence of many other political prisoners in Russia took place in many cities worldwide.

According to Maria Harmas, there are around 400 people in Russia considered by the Human Rights Centre Memorial as political prisoners.

"We have gathered here to demand the release of Navalny and all political prisoners in Russia. (We demand) that repressions stop and that Russian citizens be able to take part in peaceful gatherings and express their opinions," she said.

Navalny was detained on January 17 after flying home for the first time since being poisoned with what the West says was a military-grade nerve agent.

The 44-year-old lawyer, in a Moscow prison pending the outcome of four legal cases he describes as trumped up, accuses President Vladimir Putin of ordering his attempted murder. Putin has dismissed that, alleging Navalny is part of a US-backed dirty tricks campaign to discredit him.

Meanwhile, police detained over 1,000 people across Russia on Saturday and used force to break up rallies around the country as tens of thousands of protesters demanded the release of Navalny, whose wife was among those detained.