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People In Russia Held Mass Protests To Free Opposition Leader Alexei Navalny Who May Be Dying In Prison

Tens of thousands of people across Russia took to the streets in unsanctioned protests on Wednesday, demanding the release of jailed opposition leader Alexei Navalny, whose health is failing in prison.

The protests took place the same day that Russian President Vladimir Putin delivered a state-of-the-nation address, when he warned the West not to cross its “red lines” and did not mention Navalny.

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Supporters of Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny hold smartphones with flashlights as they take part in a protest in Lenina Square in Novosibirsk. (Photo by Kirill Kukhmar\TASS via Getty Images)

More than 1,700 protesters were detained by the police across the country. Police also arrested Navalny’s spokeswoman and an aide.

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Law enforcement officers detain a participant in an unauthorized rally held by supporters of Russian opposition activist Alexei Navalny in Sennaya Square in St. Petersburg. (Photo by Alexander Demianchuk\TASS via Getty Images)

Navalny, who has been on a hunger strike for three weeks, was finally moved to a hospital in another prison on Monday Apr. 19 after his doctors warned that he could “die at any moment” from a heart attack or kidney failure.

Prior to being moved, Navalny had reported back pain and loss of sensation in his legs and arms, and prison doctors found slipped disks in his back. He had also been sent to a prison infirmary with a high temperature and coughing.

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Yulia Navalnaya, the wife of Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny, attends a rally in support of her husband, in central Moscow on April 21, 2021. (Photo by KIRILL KUDRYAVTSEV/AFP via Getty Images)

Doctors say he has an abnormally high level of potassium in his blood and did not rule out the lingering effects of a military-grade nerve agent poisoning that almost killed him last August.

“If you saw me now, you would laugh,” Navalny said in a letter his team posted to social media on Wednesday. “A skeleton walking, swaying, in its cell.”

Demonstrations on Wednesday took place in 29 cities, including St, Petersburg, Vladivostok, cities in the Siberia region, the central city of Vladimir, where Navalny is being held, and Moscow, where the largest rally took place.

“This is one of the last gasps of a free Russia,” Marina, a student at the Moscow protest told Reuters, “We came out for Alexei.”

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Activists attend a protest in support of jailed opposition leader Alexei Navalny at Manezhnaya Square in front of Moscow’s Kremlin on April 21, 2021. (Photo by Mikhail Svetlov/Getty Images)

Navalny was arrested in January upon returning to Moscow from Germany where he had been seeking treatment for the suspected poisoning attack by the Kremlin and sentenced to two years and eight months in prison for violating a suspended prison sentence.

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Police officers detain a protester during a rally by supporters of opposition leader Alexei Navalny in Kazan, Tatarstan, Russia. (Photo by Artyom Dergunov\TASS via Getty Images)

His arrest sparked massive protests across the country, with thousands of people arrested in demonstrations.

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