Protests have taken place in multiple locations in Russia following the arrest of opposition leader Alexei Navalny.
Mr Navalny, who is a high-profile critic of President Putin, was arrested last Sunday immediately after returning to Moscow from Berlin, where he had been recovering following a nerve agent attack in August last year.
According to reports, more than 2,500 people have been arrested at rallies in support of Mr Navalny.
The UK and US have condemned “harsh tactics” used against protesters in Russia, calling on Russian authorities to release those detained by police. In a tweet on Saturday evening, UK Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab tweeted;
“The UK condemns the Russian authorities’ use of violence against peaceful protesters and journalists. We call on @GovernmentRF to respect its international commitments on human rights in @coe and @OSCE, and release citizens detained during peaceful demonstrations”
Thousands of people are understood to have taken part in rallies and similar events in Moscow, St Petersburg, Yekaterinburg, Irkutsk and a number of other cities. The number of protests and protestors are disputed, with Russia’s interior ministry putting the number of protesters much lower than non-government estimates.
It is understood that in Yakutsk, east Siberia, a small protest was held in temperatures as low as -50°C.
Protesters have been calling for the release of Mr Navalny, who is currently serving a 30-day jail term after Russian prosecutors ruled that he violated parole terms of a suspended sentence for embezzlement, a charge which Navalny claims was politically motivated.
Mr Navalny is considered President Putin’s most prominent opponent – in 2018, Navalny attempted to stand in the Presidential Election but was barred from doing so due to his suspended sentence.