"These are real citizens". He also thanked demonstrators who had gathered near the detention center where he was being held.
One of the first demonstrations was in the far eastern Russian city of Vladivostok - calling on voters to boycott what they say is a rigged presidential election on 18th March. Come to Tverskaya (Street).
Footage of Navalny's dramatic arrest spread quickly on Twitter Sunday.
While Putin, 65, is assured of victory with popularity ratings of more than 80 percent, his most prominent opponent is counting on dissatisfaction at stagnant growth and living standards after the longest recession this century has fueled the protest mood.
If charged with violating laws on holding demonstrations, Navalny could face up to 30 days in prison.
Sizable gatherings, from a few dozen to several hundred, reportedly cropped up around Russian Federation after Navalny called for protests. Navalny said he planned to attend the Moscow protest later on Sunday.
Navalny had joined a nationwide protest encouraging a boycott of Russia's presidential election in March.
Carrie Fisher simply gained her first-ever Grammy
The Princess Diarist was published two weeks before Fisher's death on December 26, 2016. She had previously been nominated in 2009 for audiobook Wishful Drinking .
"I am proud of all those who joined us today in any capacity: from Magadan to Sochi". From Krasnodar to Yakutsk, where the meeting took place at -40. But the post-Soviet turbulence of the 1990s remains deeply ingrained in Russia's collective psyche, making many reluctant to take to the streets, observers say. "Go out to the demo in your city".
Russian police have broken into the Moscow headquarters of top opposition leader Alexei Navalny using a saw, and detained several members of his team, his aides have said.
He said police sawed through the door of the office's studio during a YouTube broadcast Sunday morning. "He has been taken to the local police for formalities and protocol about an administrative abuse".
"Do you know the formal reason?" One anchor, Dmitri Nizovtsev, was detained by police during the raid, according to video broadcast by the headquarters.
"Your own life is at stake", Mr Navalny, who organised the boycott protests, said in a pre-protest video. Police said the raid was in reaction to a tip-off about a potential bomb threat, the FT reported.
Soon after a message on Navalny's Twitter account acknowledged his arrest, adding, "it does not matter", and that the rallies were about Russian's future, not him.
Critics say the case against the 41-year-old was politically motivated. His application to run in the March election was denied by the government, citing a past fraud conviction, which Navalny claims was a purely political charge.
"They are, like, fake", Ruslan Borodinov, a 25-year-old butcher at the Moscow protest said of the other candidates. "People are not ready to wait another six years, then another six, then another".
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