Russian opposition leader's office 'raided' by police

Supporters of Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny take part in a procession during a rally for a boycott of a March 18 presidential election in Vladivostok Russia on Sunday. REUTERS

During the raid, police allegedly seized computers and cameras from the office, tweeted the director of Navalny's Anti-Corruption Foundation, Roman Rubanov.

Earlier Navalny said police forced their way into his Moscow office hours before the protests were due to take place.

Reports indicated up to 185 people were detained nationwide while attending the protests.

Hundreds of his supporters joined a nationwide day of protest against the authorities on Sunday, calling on voters to boycott what they said would be a rigged presidential poll on March 18 and is likely to Vladimir Putin in the Kremlin until 2024.

"What we are being offered now is not an election", the outspoken mayor, Yevgeny Roizman, told the gathering.

Navalny has accused the rest of the field of presidential hopefuls of playing into Putin's hands and aiding what he says is a Kremlin bid to portray the vote as a legitimate, competitive contest. "These are real citizens", Navalny said in a Facebook post.

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The rallies have been organized by opposition activist Alexei Navalny, who has been barred from participating in the elections because of a previous criminal conviction, which his supporters say is politically motivated. His followers clamor to wrest him back, but the officers lift Navalny off the ground and carry him feet-first into a large bus waiting nearby.

Associated Press reporter Nataliya Vasilyeva pointed out that in June 2017 - the last big action - more than 1,000 people were detained in connection with protests.

The demonstrations on Sunday had a moderate turnout, drawing hundreds in many places, and were generally peaceful, although scattered arrests were reported. Some chanted, "Putin is a thief", as police ordered them to return home.

"I want change", Andrei Petrov, 20, told AFP in the former imperial capital. Police reported protests in more than two dozen cities, according to official media.

Navalny's opposition movement, which grew out of his internet-driven anti-corruption campaign, may still be far too weak to pose a real threat to the Putin government.

While Moscow's demonstrations may have drawn the most attention, they were not the only instances of public outcry in Russia Sunday. The crowd, thus, split up and headed in several directions.

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