The charismatic and media-savvy 41-year-old Navalny was once dismissed as a Moscow hipster with no appeal to people in Russia's far-flung regions.
Hundreds of people were arrested Monday in protests across Russian Federation.
But on CNN's The Lead, host Jake Tapper started the segment off by noting the Trump administration's swift rebuke.
Kremlin spokesperson Dmitry Peskov said Tuesday that Russian authorities would not pay attention to US calls to release the demonstrators. "Press Secretary Sean spacer calling the arrests, which included minors, an affront to, quote, "core democratic values". At the last minute, Navalny changed the venue to Tverskaya Street, where a city-organised historical fair was taking place, citing pressure from the authorities on suppliers that made it impossible to hire speakers and equipment for the venue.
Tapper leaned on CNN reporter Diana Magnay, who was in St. Petersburg, Russia, to explain what was happening on the ground.
The protests, some of the largest since 2011, were sparked by an investigation into government corruption conducted by the team of opposition politician Alexei Navalny. Some of the arrests were violent with police using batons and dragging people along the street.
Police detain a protester during anti corruption rally in St.Petersburg, Russia, Monday, June 12, 2017.
Other protests occurred throughout major cities in Russian Federation, ranging from a few hundred to over 2,000 participants in some areas.
"This is a generational shift - Russian Federation has often moved in generational shifts - and Navalny is very well placed to exploit and use that. these young people have clearly placed their faith in him; he's a clear political leader (in) the way he wasn't five years ago". The Big Three Networks also ignored the administration's condemnation back then as well. European Parliament President Antonio Tajani voiced his concern after Navalny's arrest and an EU spokesman deplored "the detention of hundreds of peaceful protesters and the violence used by Russian authorities against them". The United States condemned the arrests, a rare criticism of human rights violations and the Kremlin from Donald Trump's administration.
JAKE TAPPER: And other world news today.
The anti-corruption rallies called for by Navalny were held in more than 100 Russian towns and cities on Monday. "It was Russia Day, we had the right to be on the street", he insisted. Diana, how did these protests come about?
Navalny was detained outside his home before he could even travel to the protest. And I think he's hoping that that crushes the momentum that Navalny is trying to build, but it may not be that easy, Jake. In one of the videos, which had been viewed over 23 million times, the organizers declared that Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev had accumulated huge private capital- something he has denied. "If the law enforcement had acted in a different way, this could have led to unpredictable consequences".
Navalny has said he wants to contest the March presidential election, in which Putin is expected to run, though the authorities say the opposition figure is barred from running for office because of a fraud conviction he says is politically motivated.
"You had this unusual moment", adds Maynes, "where you had people protesting and then people in these costumes lingering about, and of course, some tourists caught up in the melee and then just Russians who wanted to take advantage of the holiday". He faces up to 30 days in administrative custody for breaking rules on organising demonstrations, his lawyer said.