Putin critic Alexei Navalny was struck down by an unknown chemical in jail, doctor claims

Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny’s former doctor has claimed he was struck down by an unknown chemical in jail rather than a ‘severe allergic reaction’.

Anastasy Vasilyeva, who cared for the vocal Putin critic when he had green dye thrown into his face in 2017, claimed on Facebook that he has ‘no allergies and never has’.

She added that Navalny, who was jailed for 30 days this week for calling for an unauthorised march to protest against the exclusion of several opposition-minded candidates from a local election, ate the same food as other prisoners and does not use personal care products. 

As such, she claims that ‘we cannot exclude toxic damage to the skin and mucous membranes by an unknown chemical substance with the help of a certain “third person”‘. 

She also said she and other doctors were prevented from seeing Navalny. Vasilyeva was part of the team that treated Navalny when he lost around 80 per cent of his sight in his right eye after an attack in April 2017. 

On Saturday, police rounded up more than 1,000 marchers in Moscow l in one of the biggest crackdowns of recent years against an increasingly defiant opposition decrying President Vladimir Putin’s tight grip on power.

Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny's former doctor has claimed he was struck down by an unknown chemical in jail rather than a 'severe allergic reaction'. Pictured: Navalny appeared in a Moscow court last Wednesday after being charged with unlawfully organising a public gathering

Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny's former doctor has claimed he was struck down by an unknown chemical in jail rather than a 'severe allergic reaction'. Pictured: Navalny appeared in a Moscow court last Wednesday after being charged with unlawfully organising a public gathering

Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny’s former doctor has claimed he was struck down by an unknown chemical in jail rather than a ‘severe allergic reaction’. Pictured: Navalny appeared in a Moscow court last Wednesday after being charged with unlawfully organising a public gathering

Anastasy Vasilyeva, who cared for the vocal Putin critic when he had green dye thrown into his face in 2017, claimed on Facebook that he has 'no allergies and never has'. As such, she claims that 'we cannot exclude toxic damage to the skin and mucous membranes by an unknown chemical substance with the help of a certain "third person"'

Anastasy Vasilyeva, who cared for the vocal Putin critic when he had green dye thrown into his face in 2017, claimed on Facebook that he has 'no allergies and never has'. As such, she claims that 'we cannot exclude toxic damage to the skin and mucous membranes by an unknown chemical substance with the help of a certain "third person"'

Anastasy Vasilyeva, who cared for the vocal Putin critic when he had green dye thrown into his face in 2017, claimed on Facebook that he has ‘no allergies and never has’. As such, she claims that ‘we cannot exclude toxic damage to the skin and mucous membranes by an unknown chemical substance with the help of a certain “third person”‘

Navalny was jailed for 30 days this week for calling for an unauthorised march to protest against the exclusion of several opposition-minded candidates from a local election later this year

Navalny was jailed for 30 days this week for calling for an unauthorised march to protest against the exclusion of several opposition-minded candidates from a local election later this year

Navalny was jailed for 30 days this week for calling for an unauthorised march to protest against the exclusion of several opposition-minded candidates from a local election later this year

Kira Yarmysh, Navalny’s spokeswoman, wrote on Twitter that Navalny had been hospitalised on Sunday morning with ‘severe swelling of the face and skin redness.’ 

She said the cause of Navalny’s allergic reaction was unknown and that he had never had suffered from such reactions in the past. 

Chants of ‘Russia without Putin’ and ‘Putin resign’ had echoed through central Moscow yesterday as guardsmen clad in riot gear beat back protesters with batons and roughly detained people. 

At least one woman and a man appeared to have suffered serious head wounds. Activists said the crackdown was the harshest since a wave of anti-Kremlin protests in 2011-12.

Despite yesterday’s protests, Russian President Vladimir Putin led Russia’s first major naval parade in years.

He went aboard one of the vessels in the Navy Day parade in St. Petersburg on the Gulf of Finland. The parade, the biggest in years, included 43 ships and submarines and 4,000 troops. 

The parade included impressive displays of Russian ships and jets, as well as parachutists and missile launches.  

But yesterday’s protests showed how Kremlin critics and especially younger people remain intent on pressing to open Russia’s tightly-choreographed political system to competition.

Navalny had called the protest to persuade officials to allow opposition-minded candidates to run in a September 8 vote.

Authorities say they were barred because they failed to collect sufficient genuine signatures in their support.

Navalny and his allies have no seats in parliament and are starved of air time on state TV where many Russians still get their news. 

Police rounded up more than 1,000 people in the Russian capital at the march on Saturday in one of the biggest crackdowns of recent years against an increasingly defiant opposition decrying President Vladimir Putin's tight grip on power

Police rounded up more than 1,000 people in the Russian capital at the march on Saturday in one of the biggest crackdowns of recent years against an increasingly defiant opposition decrying President Vladimir Putin's tight grip on power

Police rounded up more than 1,000 people in the Russian capital at the march on Saturday in one of the biggest crackdowns of recent years against an increasingly defiant opposition decrying President Vladimir Putin’s tight grip on power 

Chants of 'Russia without Putin' and 'Putin resign' echoed through central Moscow as guardsmen clad in riot gear beat back protesters with batons and roughly detained people

Chants of 'Russia without Putin' and 'Putin resign' echoed through central Moscow as guardsmen clad in riot gear beat back protesters with batons and roughly detained people

Chants of ‘Russia without Putin’ and ‘Putin resign’ echoed through central Moscow as guardsmen clad in riot gear beat back protesters with batons and roughly detained people 

Police wrestled with protesters around the mayor's office, sometimes charging into the crowd with their batons raised. OVD-Info, an organization that monitors political arrests in Russia , said 638 people were detained

Police wrestled with protesters around the mayor's office, sometimes charging into the crowd with their batons raised. OVD-Info, an organization that monitors political arrests in Russia , said 638 people were detained

Police wrestled with protesters around the mayor’s office, sometimes charging into the crowd with their batons raised. OVD-Info, an organization that monitors political arrests in Russia , said 638 people were detained 

A riot police officer holds up an injured man with his camera still around his neck after he suffers a blow to the head during the protests yesterday

A riot police officer holds up an injured man with his camera still around his neck after he suffers a blow to the head during the protests yesterday

A riot police officer holds up an injured man with his camera still around his neck after he suffers a blow to the head during the protests yesterday

Police wrestled with protesters around the mayor's office, sometimes charging into the crowd with their batons raised

Police wrestled with protesters around the mayor's office, sometimes charging into the crowd with their batons raised

Police wrestled with protesters around the mayor’s office, sometimes charging into the crowd with their batons raised

People take part in an unauthorized rally in support of rejected Moscow City Duma candidates held by Russian opposition in central Moscow, Russia, yesterday

People take part in an unauthorized rally in support of rejected Moscow City Duma candidates held by Russian opposition in central Moscow, Russia, yesterday

People take part in an unauthorized rally in support of rejected Moscow City Duma candidates held by Russian opposition in central Moscow, Russia, yesterday

Saturday's events showed how Kremlin critics and especially younger people remain intent on pressing to open Russia's tightly-choreographed political system to competition

Saturday's events showed how Kremlin critics and especially younger people remain intent on pressing to open Russia's tightly-choreographed political system to competition

Saturday’s events showed how Kremlin critics and especially younger people remain intent on pressing to open Russia’s tightly-choreographed political system to competition 

Opinion polls in the past have shown support for Navalny, a lawyer and anti-corruption activist, only in the single digits. 

But backers note he won almost a third of the vote in a 2013 Moscow mayoral race and say his movement could build momentum in the Russian capital if allowed to compete fairly.

OVD-Info, an independent monitoring group, said police detained at least 1,373 people before or at Saturday’s protest. As in past sweeps, many were only held for a matter of hours.

Police put participation at more than 3,500 people, of whom it said around 700 people were journalists and bloggers. Activists said the number attending was likely to have been much higher.

Though Putin's approval rating is still high at well over 60 percent, it is lower than it used to be due to discontent over years of falling incomes. Above: The Russian president was pictured today at a military parade in Moscow on Russian Navy Day

Though Putin's approval rating is still high at well over 60 percent, it is lower than it used to be due to discontent over years of falling incomes. Above: The Russian president was pictured today at a military parade in Moscow on Russian Navy Day

Though Putin’s approval rating is still high at well over 60 percent, it is lower than it used to be due to discontent over years of falling incomes. Above: The Russian president was pictured today at a military parade in Moscow on Russian Navy Day  

Last year, the 66-year-old former KGB intelligence officer won a landslide re-election and a new six-year term until 2024

Last year, the 66-year-old former KGB intelligence officer won a landslide re-election and a new six-year term until 2024

Last year, the 66-year-old former KGB intelligence officer won a landslide re-election and a new six-year term until 2024

Putin and Russian military generals were all smiles after watching the Russian fleet parade as part of the Navy Day celebration

Putin and Russian military generals were all smiles after watching the Russian fleet parade as part of the Navy Day celebration

Putin and Russian military generals were all smiles after watching the Russian fleet parade as part of the Navy Day celebration

The Russian Navy showed off its ships and sailors near St Petersburg as the country marked Navy Day. Above: President Vladimir Putin stands next to commander-in-chief of the Russian Navy Nikolai Yevmenov

The Russian Navy showed off its ships and sailors near St Petersburg as the country marked Navy Day. Above: President Vladimir Putin stands next to commander-in-chief of the Russian Navy Nikolai Yevmenov

The Russian Navy showed off its ships and sailors near St Petersburg as the country marked Navy Day. Above: President Vladimir Putin stands next to commander-in-chief of the Russian Navy Nikolai Yevmenov

Putin was also flanked by Russia's defence minister Sergei Shoigu (dressed in green). Today's parade, the biggest in years, included 43 ships and submarines and 4,000 troops

Putin was also flanked by Russia's defence minister Sergei Shoigu (dressed in green). Today's parade, the biggest in years, included 43 ships and submarines and 4,000 troops

Putin was also flanked by Russia’s defence minister Sergei Shoigu (dressed in green). Today’s parade, the biggest in years, included 43 ships and submarines and 4,000 troops

Putin was spending the weekend away from Moscow, the Russian capital, where nearly 1,400 people were detained Saturday in a violent police crackdown on pro-democracy protesters. Above: The Karakurt-class corvette, named 'Sovetsk' arrives in the Gulf of Finland, in St Petersburg, for today's parade

Putin was spending the weekend away from Moscow, the Russian capital, where nearly 1,400 people were detained Saturday in a violent police crackdown on pro-democracy protesters. Above: The Karakurt-class corvette, named 'Sovetsk' arrives in the Gulf of Finland, in St Petersburg, for today's parade

Putin was spending the weekend away from Moscow, the Russian capital, where nearly 1,400 people were detained Saturday in a violent police crackdown on pro-democracy protesters. Above: The Karakurt-class corvette, named ‘Sovetsk’ arrives in the Gulf of Finland, in St Petersburg, for today’s parade

A Russian group that monitors police arrests gave the figure Sunday, saying it was the largest number of detentions at a rally in the Russian capital this decade. Above: Sonya Class minesweeper the 'Pavel Khenov' arrives at the Navy Day parade

A Russian group that monitors police arrests gave the figure Sunday, saying it was the largest number of detentions at a rally in the Russian capital this decade. Above: Sonya Class minesweeper the 'Pavel Khenov' arrives at the Navy Day parade

A Russian group that monitors police arrests gave the figure Sunday, saying it was the largest number of detentions at a rally in the Russian capital this decade. Above: Sonya Class minesweeper the ‘Pavel Khenov’ arrives at the Navy Day parade

The Navy Day parade in St Petersburg was established by order of president Putin in 2017 as the main anniversary event in connection with the celebrations. Above: The Korolev large landing ship takes part in the military parade

The Navy Day parade in St Petersburg was established by order of president Putin in 2017 as the main anniversary event in connection with the celebrations. Above: The Korolev large landing ship takes part in the military parade

The Navy Day parade in St Petersburg was established by order of president Putin in 2017 as the main anniversary event in connection with the celebrations. Above: The Korolev large landing ship takes part in the military parade

Up in smoke: The Muromets ant-submarine ship fires fearsome missiles into the air, which blast a bright orange jet behind them as they launch

Up in smoke: The Muromets ant-submarine ship fires fearsome missiles into the air, which blast a bright orange jet behind them as they launch

Up in smoke: The Muromets ant-submarine ship fires fearsome missiles into the air, which blast a bright orange jet behind them as they launch

Ships and air force units from the Black Sea, Baltic, Northern and Pacific fleets feature in the annual parade. Above: Sukhoi Su-30 fighter jets show off what they can do in the skies above St Petersburg

Ships and air force units from the Black Sea, Baltic, Northern and Pacific fleets feature in the annual parade. Above: Sukhoi Su-30 fighter jets show off what they can do in the skies above St Petersburg

Ships and air force units from the Black Sea, Baltic, Northern and Pacific fleets feature in the annual parade. Above: Sukhoi Su-30 fighter jets show off what they can do in the skies above St Petersburg 

The four fighter jets fired impressive flares into the sky and they were trailed by grey plumes of smoke which wowed spectators below

The four fighter jets fired impressive flares into the sky and they were trailed by grey plumes of smoke which wowed spectators below

The four fighter jets fired impressive flares into the sky and they were trailed by grey plumes of smoke which wowed spectators below

The parade also featured daring parachute jumps from Russian military personnel. The parade is an opportunity for president Putin to show off the latest weaponry at the disposal of his country's navy

The parade also featured daring parachute jumps from Russian military personnel. The parade is an opportunity for president Putin to show off the latest weaponry at the disposal of his country's navy

The parade also featured daring parachute jumps from Russian military personnel. The parade is an opportunity for president Putin to show off the latest weaponry at the disposal of his country’s navy

Another parachutist displayed the Russian flag as they jumped from a plane flying in the skies above St Petersburg today

Another parachutist displayed the Russian flag as they jumped from a plane flying in the skies above St Petersburg today

Another parachutist displayed the Russian flag as they jumped from a plane flying in the skies above St Petersburg today

Elite members of the Russian navy parade their fearsome weapons in the air during the Navy Day celebrations

Elite members of the Russian navy parade their fearsome weapons in the air during the Navy Day celebrations

Elite members of the Russian navy parade their fearsome weapons in the air during the Navy Day celebrations

Older Russian ships also took part in the parade. Above: The enormous three-mast tall sailing ship the Khersones comes into the harbour in St Petersburg

Older Russian ships also took part in the parade. Above: The enormous three-mast tall sailing ship the Khersones comes into the harbour in St Petersburg

Older Russian ships also took part in the parade. Above: The enormous three-mast tall sailing ship the Khersones comes into the harbour in St Petersburg

The parade starts at 11am and as well as the main event in St Petersburg, parades are also held at other naval bases around the country

The parade starts at 11am and as well as the main event in St Petersburg, parades are also held at other naval bases around the country

The parade starts at 11am and as well as the main event in St Petersburg, parades are also held at other naval bases around the country

Today's protest came after yesterday's protests in Moscow against , which saw 1,400 arrested by Russian police in what was one of the biggest crackdowns of recent years against an increasingly defiant opposition. Above: Putin stands alongside navy commander Nkolai Yevmenov (centre) and another navy officer

Today's protest came after yesterday's protests in Moscow against , which saw 1,400 arrested by Russian police in what was one of the biggest crackdowns of recent years against an increasingly defiant opposition. Above: Putin stands alongside navy commander Nkolai Yevmenov (centre) and another navy officer

Today’s protest came after yesterday’s protests in Moscow against , which saw 1,400 arrested by Russian police in what was one of the biggest crackdowns of recent years against an increasingly defiant opposition. Above: Putin stands alongside navy commander Nkolai Yevmenov (centre) and another navy officer

The Russian president also shook hands with St Petersburg governor Alexander Beglov during the Navy Day parade

The Russian president also shook hands with St Petersburg governor Alexander Beglov during the Navy Day parade

The Russian president also shook hands with St Petersburg governor Alexander Beglov during the Navy Day parade

Last month, Putin taunted the UK over the Tory leadership race by suggesting that Russia was more of a democracy than Britain. Above: The Russian president speaks with his defence minister, Sergei Shoigu as navy commander Yevmenov stands behind him

Last month, Putin taunted the UK over the Tory leadership race by suggesting that Russia was more of a democracy than Britain. Above: The Russian president speaks with his defence minister, Sergei Shoigu as navy commander Yevmenov stands behind him

Last month, Putin taunted the UK over the Tory leadership race by suggesting that Russia was more of a democracy than Britain. Above: The Russian president speaks with his defence minister, Sergei Shoigu as navy commander Yevmenov stands behind him

Putin had mocked the UK for having a system in which a new prime minister can be installed without being elected by the nation, a reference to the Conservative Party's leadership rules. Above: Putin is flanked by navy generals as he talks to his defence minister Sergei Shoigu

Putin had mocked the UK for having a system in which a new prime minister can be installed without being elected by the nation, a reference to the Conservative Party's leadership rules. Above: Putin is flanked by navy generals as he talks to his defence minister Sergei Shoigu

Putin had mocked the UK for having a system in which a new prime minister can be installed without being elected by the nation, a reference to the Conservative Party’s leadership rules. Above: Putin is flanked by navy generals as he talks to his defence minister Sergei Shoigu

Earlier this month, the Russian president was bizarrely asked by Oscar-winning director Oliver Stone to be the godfather to be godfather to his 22-year-old daughter. Above: Putin and Nikolai Yevmenov, the commander of the Russian navy

Earlier this month, the Russian president was bizarrely asked by Oscar-winning director Oliver Stone to be the godfather to be godfather to his 22-year-old daughter. Above: Putin and Nikolai Yevmenov, the commander of the Russian navy

Earlier this month, the Russian president was bizarrely asked by Oscar-winning director Oliver Stone to be the godfather to be godfather to his 22-year-old daughter. Above: Putin and Nikolai Yevmenov, the commander of the Russian navy

Leading from the front: Putin walks up a gangway after inspecting some of the vessels which took part in the military parade for Navy Day

Leading from the front: Putin walks up a gangway after inspecting some of the vessels which took part in the military parade for Navy Day

Leading from the front: Putin walks up a gangway after inspecting some of the vessels which took part in the military parade for Navy Day

Last week, Putin's eldest daughter, Maria Vorotsova, 33, made a rare TV appearance to announce her first business venture. Above: The Russian president walks up a gangway after inspecting some of the vessels during today's parade

Last week, Putin's eldest daughter, Maria Vorotsova, 33, made a rare TV appearance to announce her first business venture. Above: The Russian president walks up a gangway after inspecting some of the vessels during today's parade

Last week, Putin’s eldest daughter, Maria Vorotsova, 33, made a rare TV appearance to announce her first business venture. Above: The Russian president walks up a gangway after inspecting some of the vessels during today’s parade

Navy Day is a national holiday in Russia. It honours sailors who serve in the armed forces and is celebrated annually on the last Sunday of July

Navy Day is a national holiday in Russia. It honours sailors who serve in the armed forces and is celebrated annually on the last Sunday of July

Navy Day is a national holiday in Russia. It honours sailors who serve in the armed forces and is celebrated annually on the last Sunday of July

The Sovetsk small missile ship during today's Navy Day in St Petersburg

The Sovetsk small missile ship during today's Navy Day in St Petersburg

The P-104 Nakhimovets counter-sabotage boat motors beneath a raised bridge

The P-104 Nakhimovets counter-sabotage boat motors beneath a raised bridge

Above left: The Sovetsk small missile ship during today’s Navy Day in St Petersburg. Above right: The P-104 Nakhimovets counter-sabotage boat motors beneath a raised bridge

The Aleksin small anti-submarine ship fires missiles into the air during the parade in St Petersburg today in what was a show of force by the Russian navy

The Aleksin small anti-submarine ship fires missiles into the air during the parade in St Petersburg today in what was a show of force by the Russian navy

The Aleksin small anti-submarine ship fires missiles into the air during the parade in St Petersburg today in what was a show of force by the Russian navy

Sailors were also pictured enjoying themselves during the celebrations. Above: A Russian sailor smiles as he soaks himself in a fountain in St Petersburg

Sailors were also pictured enjoying themselves during the celebrations. Above: A Russian sailor smiles as he soaks himself in a fountain in St Petersburg

Sailors were also pictured enjoying themselves during the celebrations. Above: A Russian sailor smiles as he soaks himself in a fountain in St Petersburg

One of the guys: A group of Russian sailors sing together as one of them holds a little Jack Russell, which is sitting in his shoulder bag

One of the guys: A group of Russian sailors sing together as one of them holds a little Jack Russell, which is sitting in his shoulder bag

One of the guys: A group of Russian sailors sing together as one of them holds a little Jack Russell, which is sitting in his shoulder bag

St Petersburg residents turned out in their thousands to watch the show of force from their country's navy. Above: An older man plays the accordian while two of his companions sing along

St Petersburg residents turned out in their thousands to watch the show of force from their country's navy. Above: An older man plays the accordian while two of his companions sing along

St Petersburg residents turned out in their thousands to watch the show of force from their country’s navy. Above: An older man plays the accordian while two of his companions sing along

The Aleksin small anti-submarine ship was just one of the numerous vessels taking part in today's parade celebrating annual Navy Day

The Aleksin small anti-submarine ship was just one of the numerous vessels taking part in today's parade celebrating annual Navy Day

The Aleksin small anti-submarine ship was just one of the numerous vessels taking part in today’s parade celebrating annual Navy Day

Thousands of Russian citizens watched today's celebrations and were pictured taking photos and videos with their smartphones and cameras

Thousands of Russian citizens watched today's celebrations and were pictured taking photos and videos with their smartphones and cameras

Thousands of Russian citizens watched today’s celebrations and were pictured taking photos and videos with their smartphones and cameras 

Members of the navy also took part in a demonstration of a water rescue and they stood out in their bright orange waterproof suits

Members of the navy also took part in a demonstration of a water rescue and they stood out in their bright orange waterproof suits

Members of the navy also took part in a demonstration of a water rescue and they stood out in their bright orange waterproof suits

The rescue personnel demonstrated their impressive floating suits by lying on the surface of the water during today's parade

The rescue personnel demonstrated their impressive floating suits by lying on the surface of the water during today's parade

The rescue personnel demonstrated their impressive floating suits by lying on the surface of the water during today’s parade

This Russian rescue crew member looked to be having a little too much fun as he leaped into the water while wearing his buoyant waterproof suit

This Russian rescue crew member looked to be having a little too much fun as he leaped into the water while wearing his buoyant waterproof suit

This Russian rescue crew member looked to be having a little too much fun as he leaped into the water while wearing his buoyant waterproof suit 

Despite yesterday's angry protests, president Russian citizens still looked happy as they posed for pictures with the premier

Despite yesterday's angry protests, president Russian citizens still looked happy as they posed for pictures with the premier

Despite yesterday’s angry protests, president Russian citizens still looked happy as they posed for pictures with the premier

One bright-eyed woman looked delighted as she shook president Putin's hand amid a mob of citizens surrounding him

One bright-eyed woman looked delighted as she shook president Putin's hand amid a mob of citizens surrounding him

One bright-eyed woman looked delighted as she shook president Putin’s hand amid a mob of citizens surrounding him

Among the Russian military assets on display was the Korolyov large landing ship, which was pictured releasing a BTR-82A amphibious armoured personnel carrier into the water in St Petersburg

Among the Russian military assets on display was the Korolyov large landing ship, which was pictured releasing a BTR-82A amphibious armoured personnel carrier into the water in St Petersburg

Among the Russian military assets on display was the Korolyov large landing ship, which was pictured releasing a BTR-82A amphibious armoured personnel carrier into the water in St Petersburg

These former members of the Russian navy got into the spirit of things as they splashed about in a fountain in St Petersburg

These former members of the Russian navy got into the spirit of things as they splashed about in a fountain in St Petersburg

These former members of the Russian navy got into the spirit of things as they splashed about in a fountain in St Petersburg

Dozens of Russian citizens watched on and took photos as the former sailors joked and laughed while they played in the water

Dozens of Russian citizens watched on and took photos as the former sailors joked and laughed while they played in the water

Dozens of Russian citizens watched on and took photos as the former sailors joked and laughed while they played in the water

Two of the former sailors embrace each other in the fountain as other citizens watch on during the Navy Day celebrations

Two of the former sailors embrace each other in the fountain as other citizens watch on during the Navy Day celebrations

Two of the former sailors embrace each other in the fountain as other citizens watch on during the Navy Day celebrations

I can splash more than you! These two former sailors looked to be engaging in a water fight during today's spirited celebration

I can splash more than you! These two former sailors looked to be engaging in a water fight during today's spirited celebration

I can splash more than you! These two former sailors looked to be engaging in a water fight during today’s spirited celebration

These two former sailors looked to be engaging in an arm wrestle near a fountain in St Petersburg as one of their friends egged them on

These two former sailors looked to be engaging in an arm wrestle near a fountain in St Petersburg as one of their friends egged them on

These two former sailors looked to be engaging in an arm wrestle near a fountain in St Petersburg as one of their friends egged them on 

Some activists were arrested twice after being released and then returning to protest in a different place. Reuters witnesses said some of those detained appeared to be ordinary passersby in the wrong place at the wrong time.

Though Putin’s approval rating is still high at well over 60 percent, it is lower than it used to be due to discontent over years of falling incomes. 

Last year, the 66-year-old former KGB intelligence officer won a landslide re-election and a new six-year term until 2024.

Burnishing his man of action image, Putin spent Saturday diving to the bottom of the Gulf of Finland in a mini-submarine to honour a Soviet submarine that sunk there in World War Two.  

The Shchuka-class submarine Shch-308 sank in October 1942 near the island of Gogland, west of St Petersburg, the Russian capital.

In scenes which made Mr Putin appear like a villain from a James Bond film, Mr Putin was pictured smiling in the underwater craft, a C-Explorer 3.11 submersible.

Russian president Vladimir Putin dived to the bottom of the Gulf of Finland yesterday aboard a submersible to explore a Soviet submarine which was sunk during World War Two

Russian president Vladimir Putin dived to the bottom of the Gulf of Finland yesterday aboard a submersible to explore a Soviet submarine which was sunk during World War Two

Russian president Vladimir Putin dived to the bottom of the Gulf of Finland yesterday aboard a submersible to explore a Soviet submarine which was sunk during World War Two

Its airtight glass bubble protected Mr Putin, who first became Russian president in 1999 and has continuously ruled the country since 2012.

The Russian Interior Ministry and the Moscow hospital where Navalny’s spokeswoman said he was being treated could not immediately be reached for comment.

Navalny, Russia’s most prominent opposition figure, has served several stints in jail in recent years for organising anti-government demonstrations.

The European Court of Human Rights last year ruled that Russia’s arrests and detention of Navalny in 2012 and 2014 were politically-motivated and breached his human rights, a ruling Moscow called questionable. 

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