Rights Group Says More Than 1,000 People Were Detained in Russia Protests

Dozens of opposition supporters were arrested ahead of the rallies

Russians head to the polls for regional elections Sunday in which Kremlin-loyal candidates are set to dominate, as a jailed opposition leader calls for protests over unpopular pension reforms.

Russia's elections have been overshadowed by public anger over the government's plans to raise the pension age, as the country struggles with an aging population.

"I can't keep being afraid anymore", she said of her decision to risk detention by showing up at a protest in Moscow's Pushkin Square that police said attracted about 2,000 people.

"For the first time in history, the company has satisfied the illegal demands of Russian authorities and has taken down from YouTube the paid ads promoting the rally against pensions reform", said Leonid Volkov, a close partner of the opposition leader, on the social media.

Concessions by President Putin, whose popularity has suffered as a result, have failed to stem the discontent.

The Moscow mayoral election is the highest-profile of the votes, but serious opposition candidates have been kept off the ballot paper in favour of incumbent Sergei Sobyanin.

The pulled videos showed Navalny calling for Russians to demonstrate in the country to protest a plan to raise the nation's retirement age, BBC News reported.

The demonstrations were called to protest changes to the pension retirement ages that were hiked from 55 years for women and 60 for men to 63 and 65 respectively.

Turnout stood at 30.8 percent. Last month he offered some concessions, but he and government officials say the age hike is necessary because rising life expectancy in Russian Federation could exhaust pension resources if the eligibility age remains the same.

Some of them chanted "Russia will be free" and "Putin is a thief".

In advance of the vote, a Moscow court jailed Navalny for 30 days, just a couple weeks before he planned to stage a rally on election day.

"The authorities are not listening to people and that means it's time to take to the streets", Navalny's team said in a pre-protest statement.

United Russia remained the dominant force in the national parliament in the last election in 2016.

Officers held dozens more as protests kicked off in eastern Russian Federation and Siberia, with demonstrations set to take place in Saint Petersburg and Moscow in the afternoon.

The "unexpected failures" of the ruling party "are a bombshell similar to the spirit of 2011", when the largest anti-Kremlin protests of Putin's era erupted over alleged ballot-rigging, Kirill Rogov, a Moscow-based political analyst, said on Facebook.

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