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Russia opposition leader Navalny freed without charges after brief detention

US Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN) (L) talks with Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) during a rally with fellow Democrats before voting on H.R. 1, or the People Act, on the East Steps of the US Capitol on March 08, 2019 in Washington, DC. (AFP photo)
Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny speaks during an interview with AFP at the office of his Anti-corruption Foundation (FBK) in Moscow on January 16, 2018. (Photos by AFP)

Russian opposition Leader Alexei Navalny has been released without charges several hours after he was detained by police during a rally.

Navalny's lawyer, Olga Mikhailova, told Reuters on Sunday that her client had been released without any charges but would have to appear in court on a later date.

The opposition leader could receive a 30-day jail term if charged with violating laws on holding protests.

Navalny was detained earlier on Sunday shortly after he joined a protest calling on voters to boycott the upcoming Russian presidential election on March 18.

Earlier on Sunday, Russian police broke into Navalny's Moscow office amid a live online broadcast of the nationwide protests.

Polls show that Russian President Vladimir Putin, whose approval ratings top 80 percent, is on course to easily win a fourth term. That prospect has angered Navalny’s supporters.

Supporters of opposition leader Alexei Navalny take part in a rally calling for a boycott of March 18 presidential elections, Saint Petersburg, January 28, 2018.

Opposition supporters said they expected “thousands” of people to take part in similar demonstrations in 118 towns and cities across Russia. However, there was no immediate word on whether those protests did occur.

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Navalny, who has organized anti-government demonstrations before, has been imprisoned three times over the past year and charged with breaking the law for organizing unauthorized public meetings and rallies.

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