SUPPORTERS of opposition leader Alexei Navalny are rallying across Russia, after his call on authorities to let him enter the presidential race.

The wave of demonstrations on the 65th birthday of President Vladimir Putin comes as Navalny serves a 20-day jail term for calling for an unsanctioned protest.

Rallies numbering from a few dozen to a few hundred people were held in several cities in Russia’s far east and Siberia.

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Most of the demonstrations have not been sanctioned by authorities, and police detained a few protesters and activists in some cities.

In Moscow, several hundred protesters gathered in Pushkinskaya Square, waving Russian flags and chanting “Russia will be free!” and “Free Navalny!”

Navalny has declared his intention to run for president in the March election, even though his criminal conviction now bars him from running.

The 41-year-old anti-corruption crusader has organised several waves of protests this year, casting a challenge to the Kremlin.

Putin has not yet announced his intention to seek re-election, but with his current approval ratings topping 80 per cent he is set to win another six-year term.

Navalny argued that a high level of support for Putin results from the lack of real political competition and urged his supporters to help him get registered for the race.