Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny has been detained alongside hundreds of other protesters
Thousands of people have gathered in Moscow and other large cities across Russia today in protest of official corruption in what appears to be the biggest public demonstrations since the anti-Kremlin protests of 2011/12.
Alexei Navalny, the anti-corruption opposition leader who called for today's protests against President Vladimir Putin, has reportedly been arrested in Moscow.
The protests come one year before a presidential election which Vladimir Putin is expected to contest, running for what would be his fourth term.
Navalny and his Foundation for Fighting Corruption called for the protests after releasing a film which showed lavish houses reportedly owned by Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev, and reports that he also owned yachts and vineyards through a suspicious network of non-profit organisations.
The alleged luxuries controlled by Medvedev included a house specifically for raising ducks, so many protesters placards today show mocking images of yellow toy ducks.
The government have denied these claims.
Reporters from inside Russia are live broadcasting the protests, stating that over 400 people have been detained in Moscow alone and that the Red Square is now closed off.
Navalny stated on his website that today's protests were planned in 99 cities, but that in 72 of them authorities did not give permission, and there are claims of police brutality increasing in the protests.
Arrests grtting more and more violent on the edges of now-cleared Pushkin Square: pic.twitter.com/uZrVHNqcGn— Howard Amos (@howardamos) March 26, 2017
Central Moscow on lockdown, thousands of riot cops, helicopters. Top news on national newswire: 'U.S.cow escapes cops in a dramatic chase'. pic.twitter.com/bAdzgy0Eoo— Alexey Kovalev (@Alexey__Kovalev) March 26, 2017
Gary Kasparov, Chairman of the Human Rights Foundation tweeted that "today's protests across Russia are anti-corruption, but make no mistake—they are anti-Putin. Corruption is the system. Putin is the state."
He went on to say that "even the strongest dictatorship is fragile if it relies on one man."
Reporters at the protests have also stated that there is a 'media-blackout' taking place across Russia, and that the current top news headline on the national news-wire is 'U.S.cow escapes cops in a dramatic chase', despite thousands of riot police and helicopters deployed throughout the country.
Staff at Navalny's office have been detained for streaming the protests live online without permission.
Police, who opposition groups accuse of understating such counts, put the turnout in Moscow at about 8,000. Photos from the scene suggested actual numbers were much larger.
Today marks the 17th anniversary since Putin first became president.