Saturday's demonstrations in support of the arrested regime critic Alexei Navalny gathered tens of thousands of participants, in some places in temperatures as low as minus 50 degrees.

In Moscow, about 20,000 people participated, in St. Petersburg about 10,000, according to estimates by the news agency AFP.

Intensive care for the injured

In several places, the riot police Omon intervened with harsh methods.

Video clips from Moscow show how the police try to disperse the crowd with raised batons.

In St. Petersburg, local media report that a woman receives intensive care after being fired by a police officer.

A total of 29 people were taken to hospital, writes Moscow Times.

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Alexei Navalny's wife Julia is arrested here

In connection with the demonstrations and afterwards, 3,642 people were arrested in more than 120 places, according to the organization OVD-info, which keeps minutes of the police's coercive measures.

Among them is Navalny's wife Julia Navalnaja, who was released on Saturday.

Most are said to have been released without formal charges.

The authorities claim that the interventions are justified and refer to the fact that the demonstrations were unauthorized and held during a pandemic.

France: Abominable violation

Over the weekend, the attacks have received harsh criticism from several countries.

Sweden's Foreign Minister Ann Linde expresses on Twitter "deep concern" about the Russian police's actions.

French Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian says the authorities are violating the rule of law in a "disgusting" way.

- I find this shift towards the authoritarian very worrying, he says to French media according to TT.

The British Foreign Office and the US Embassy in Moscow have expressed support for the right to demonstrate.

Heavy politicians: Punish Putin

On Monday, EU foreign ministers will meet to discuss the arrest of Navalny and action against the protesters.

The chairman of the European Parliament's largest party group, the Conservative-Christian Democratic EPP, demands that the ministerial meeting take the initiative to impose sanctions on Russia.

"It is unacceptable that the Russian leadership is trying to make the process short with the burgeoning protests by arresting thousands of protesters," EPP chairman Manfred Weber told Reuters.

He believes that the EU should stop all financial transactions to Russian President Vladimir Putin and his immediate circle.

- The EU must strike where it really feels, says Weber.