Navalny denied release, as more protests loom

Anastasia Vasilyeva is an ally of Alexei Navalny, the prominent Russian opposition politician currently in prison.

She's his personal medic. She's playing the piano... while police raid her home.

Scenes like these in the last few days have played out across Russia, as authorities have raided the homes and offices of those close to the critic of President Vladimir Putin.

And on Thursday a court ordered that Navalny remain behind bars, rejecting the appeal against his detention. More mass protests by his supporters may hit this weekend demanding his release.

"Truth is on our side," he's telling the court via video link. "We are the majority (...) And we won't allow a bunch of villains to impose their rules on our country."

Polls suggest Putin dwarfs Navalny in popularity.

Navalny was originally arrested on alleged parole violations after returning to Russia after recovering from the poisoning attempt on his life, and has faced many legal cases against him including embezzlement - which he says are trumped up charges to silence him.

His allies that were raided have been accused of encouraging illegal protests, encouraging minors to participate in those protests, and breaking coronavirus restrictions.

Tens of thousands of people turned out to those protests across the country, and almost 4,000 of them were detained in Moscow alone.

Navalny could face years in prison.