Navalny protests hit Israeli streets as Tel Aviv calls for his release

Protesters gathered near the Russian embassy in Tel Aviv, carrying signs in Hebrew, English, and Russian reading "Free Navalny."

Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny is escorted by police officers after a court hearing, in Khimki outside Moscow, Russia January 18, 2021. (photo credit: EVGENY FELDMAN/MEDUZA/HANDOUT VIA REUTERS)
Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny is escorted by police officers after a court hearing, in Khimki outside Moscow, Russia January 18, 2021.
(photo credit: EVGENY FELDMAN/MEDUZA/HANDOUT VIA REUTERS)
As tens of thousands of Kremlin critic Alexei Navalny's supporters took to the streets in Russia on Saturday, his Israeli supporters did not remain indifferent, with hundreds gathering in Tel Aviv and calling for his release, Israeli media reported. 
Navalny, President Vladimir Putin’s most prominent critic, was detained on Sunday upon returning to Russia for the first time after he was allegedly poisoned by state security agents. 
Before returning, Navalny and his supporters had anticipated he would be arrested and planned to force the Kremlin to release him by staging repeated protests, a close ally has said.
In Israel, some decided to show support for Navalny by protesting his arrest. Hundreds of protesters, according to Ynet, gathered at the London Garden in Tel Aviv, near the Russian embassy, carrying signs in Hebrew, English and Russian reading "Free Navalny." 
Israel is home to nearly one million citizens who were born in the Soviet Union and migrated to Israel, primarily during the 1990s, and their descendants. Most of the Russian-Israeli population has integrated well in Israeli society and is involved in the country's economy on all levels. 
In Russia, police have reportedly detained over 2,000 protesters and journalists at gatherings across the country deemed unauthorized by the government as tens of thousands continue to protest nationwide, calling for the release of Navalny. 
Later on Saturday, the US called on Russian authorities to release protesters and journalists detained across Russia and condemned what it called "harsh tactics" used against them.

Reuters contributed to this report.