Navalny himself was arrested Monday afternoon outside his home in Moscow as he headed for an unsanctioned protest rally.
As police detained demonstrators, hundreds of others shouted slogans including "Putin is a thief" and "Shame!" But Monday's protests could demonstrate that it has significant support throughout the vast country.
The scale of the protests will show if Navalny can build on the success of a similar event in March, in which thousands took to the streets across Russian Federation.
On his website, Navalny urged his supporters to take to the streets and oppose Putin's government.
Russian opposition leader Alexey Navalny was detained by police outside his apartment in southern Moscow after calling on supporters to mount an unsanctioned protest near the Kremlin, his supporters said.
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There are expectations of numbers matching those reached on 26 March when several tens of thousands of protesters gathered behind Navalny, leader of the opposition and candidate in next year's presidential election.
Mr Navalny said contractors hired to build a stage at the agreed-upon venue could not do their work.
Moscow City Hall labelled the decision a "provocation" while the police warned that a different event was being held at Tverskaya and that the protest would clash with festivities.
But Navalny said late on Sunday that the authorities had pressured firms into refusing to supply him and his allies with sound and video equipment, a move he said was created to humiliate protesters.
Although city authorities had agreed to a location for the gathering that is to be the centerpiece of Monday's protests, Navalny called for it to be moved to one of Moscow's main thoroughfares.
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"Any provocative actions by the protesters will be viewed as threat to public order and immediately thwarted", the police said. More than 1,000 people were arrested at a similar rally organised by Navalny in March.
Navalny, Russia's most prominent opposition figure, has been arrested numerous times for a variety of accused crimes.
The protests in March were called to demand the resignation of Prime Minster Dmitry Medvedev. It is unclear too if the Kremlin will even let Navalny run for the presidency.
For now, polls suggest Navalny has scant chance of unseating Putin, who enjoys high ratings.
Navalny, who had a caustic green liquid thrown in his face in April, robbing him of some of his sight, said he expected demonstrations from Moscow to Murmansk.
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