Police have released the prominent Russian opposition figure Alexey Navalny, hours after he had been detained during an anti-government protest.

Navalny had been wrestled to the ground bundled into a police van when he appeared ahead of a protest on Tverskaya Street in central Moscow on Sunday (28 January).

After his arrest, he tweeted, "I have been released ahead of a court appearance...A big thanks to everyone who supported me and stood by the police station. I heard your chanting, you are great".

His lawyer Olga Mikhailova said that he had been released without charge although he may have to appear in court. Earlier that day, his offices had reportedly been raided by the authorities.

Ksenia Sobchak, whom he has previously criticised as being a Kremlin stooge, and is allowed to run in the election against Vladimir Putin, reportedly visited him in prison and brought him food.

Navalny is banned from standing the election due to a criminal conviction he says is politically motivated.

He had organised marches across the country using the slogan "the boycott of the voters" as he wants people in Russia to abstain from the ballot box in protest at what he says would be a rigged election.

The protests took place right across the country in Russian cities, although the ones in the Russian capital and St Petersburg had been approved by the authorities. Around 180 people were arrested.

Navalny protests
Supporters of Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny shout slogans during a rally for a boycott of a March 18 presidential election in Moscow, Russia 28 January. Reuters