Navalny was taken to a Moscow police station on charges of organizing an "unauthorized rally", police officials told TASS, a Russian news agency.
The opposition leader urged Muscovites not to give up.
"I think that the most appropriate means is to vote for the candidate that suits you", he said.
Authorities beefed up security, dispatching police vans and passenger buses to the city center, but police largely refrained from arresting protesters.
Roman Rubanov, director of Navalny's Anti-Corruption Foundation, wrote on Twitter on Sunday morning that the police accused one of the show presenters, Dimitry Nizovtsev, of having a bomb in his phone. A crowd of protesters was later allowed to walk down to Red Square.
Around 240 people were detained across the country, according to OVD-Info, an independent group which monitors crackdowns on demonstrations. One anchor, Dmitri Nizovtsev, was detained by police during the raid, according to video broadcast by the headquarters. Despite the truncheon blows and rigged court cases, the 41-year-old dissident steers demonstrations, calls for election boycotts and releases barbed exposés of government corruption on social media.
I am prepared to be shot if it comes to that,” said Sergei Ivanchenko
The Kremlin has rejected allegations of widespread, high-level corruption and has condemned Navalny as a risky influence whose calls for protests could plunge Russian Federation into chaos.
In power as president or prime minister for nearly two decades, Putin is almost certain to win another six-year term as president March 18.
In a Facebook post, Navalny thanked everyone who had taken to the streets Sunday.
In most cities, municipal authorities have not authorized the rallies. "We are exhausted of living in this quagmire".
In the Ural city of Yekaterinburg, around 1,000 people turned up, with the city's mayor joining the crowd. Navalny is also calling on Russians to boycott the election. "He has been taken to the local police for formalities and protocol about an administrative abuse".
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