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Navalny Detained in Moscow For Handing Out Opposition Rally Flyers

Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny

Opposition leader Alexei Navalny was one of several activists detained by police over the weekend for distributing flyers promoting an upcoming anti-government rally in Moscow.

Navalny, a prominent anti-corruption campaigner, was detained on Sunday together with his associate Nikolai Lyaskin at the Krasnopresnenskaya metro station on the city's Circle Line, the OVD police monitoring site reported.

The two men had been handing out flyers advertising a rally planned for March 1, according to Twitter updates posted by Navalny. Liberal politician Boris Nemtsov also helped distribute the flyers, according to Navalny, though he was not taken into police custody.

Six other activists were detained Sunday at the Novoslobodskaya metro station, the OVD report said. Roman Rubanov, director of Navalny's Anti-Corruption Foundation, wrote on Twitter that he was also detained after handing out flyers at the Turgenevskaya metro on the city's Orange Line.

After several hours in police custody all of the detained activists were released, Navalny wrote early Monday on Twitter.

"Everything is fine, they have let everyone go and the police even took us to the metro for free. Thank you everyone for the support," he wrote, after being detained for more than eight hours — five hours longer than is legally permissible in Russia.

Lyaskin, who was held along with Navalny, said Monday on Twitter that members of the opposition had formally applied to City Hall with an application to hold a rally on March 1.

The march would take place on Moscow's Tverskaya Ulitsa and envisages up to 100,000 people taking part, according to a copy of the application posted online by Lyaskin. In accordance with the law, the Mayor's Office has three days to respond to the request.

Navalny, 38, is currently serving a suspended sentence of three-and-a-half years after being convicted in December of embezzling 30 million rubles ($479,000) from two companies, including a Russian branch of French cosmetics giant Yves Rocher.

The former lawyer, who was ordered last month to remain under house arrest until Feb. 15, maintains that the legal proceedings against him are politically motivated.

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