The Kremlin have declared there is no rival to ‘absolute leader’ Vladimir Putin a day after fierce anti-election rallies were held across Russia.
More than 100 cites held rallies on Sunday in support of Alexei Navalny’s call to boycott the presidential election in March.
The opposition politician has been barred from running as a candidate because of a previous conviction for fraud in 2014.
Critics say it is part of a Kremlin plot to exclude him from the race.
The Kremlin have declared there is no rival to ‘absolute leader’ Vladimir Putin a day after fierce anti-election rallies were held across Russia
‘The level of Vladimir Putin’s popularity extends far beyond Russia,’ Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov reportedly said on Monday.
‘It’s doubtful that anyone could question the fact that Putin is the absolute leader in public opinion and the absolute leader of political Olympus, so to say, with whom hardly anyone can seriously compete.’
He added: ‘Putin has repeatedly affirmed his incontestable leadership and continues to do so’.
Peskov reportedly said that Navalny does not pose a political threat to Putin and that some say his rallies ‘were barely attended’.
More than 100 cites held rallies on Sunday in support of Alexei Navalny’s call to boycott the presidential election in March. The opposition politician (pictured) was detained by officers in Moscow
About 2,000 people gathered in Moscow and 1,000 in St Petersburg on Sunday.
Dozens of other towns and cities also hosted smaller rallies despite temperatures dropping as low as minus 30 degrees.
Some 250 people were detained across the country on grounds that many meetings were not authorised by the local authorities.
After his arrest, Navalny later tweeted: ‘I’ve been detained. This does not matter. Come to Tverskaya. You’re not coming out for me, but for yourself and for your future.’
He was released last night.
Despite the extensive rallies, state-run surveys suggest the Kremlin will fulfill its aim of achieving a 70 per cent turnout and 70 per cent of votes for Putin.
If he is re-elected, he will become Russia’s longest-serving leader since Joseph Stalin, extending his rule to 2024.