“If they really wanted to, they would have, most likely, carried it through,” Mr. Putin said.
Despite the Kremlin’s dismissal of Mr. Navalny and his supporters as part of a misguided minority, the opposition leader has demonstrated an ability to grab the attention of millions of people in Russia.
Shortly after his return to Moscow, Mr. Navalny’s team published an investigation describing a secret palace on the shores of the Black Sea, which they said was built for Mr. Putin and paid for by state-run companies. The video version of the investigation has been viewed by more than 100 million people on YouTube, with 70 percent watching from Russia, according to Lyubov Sobol, Mr. Navalny’s ally. On Monday, Mr. Putin dismissed Mr. Navalny’s accusations, calling the video investigation “boring.”
While in jail, Mr. Navalny has been unplugged from daily political life, said Olga Mikhailova, his lawyer. For instance, he wasn’t aware that several members of his team had been arrested and his apartment searched by police.
Over the past week, Russian authorities have detained more than 4,000 people across the country at protests calling for Mr. Navalny’s release, according to OVD-Info, an activist group that tracks arrests at protests. At least seven criminal cases have been opened against protesters, the Moscow police said in a statement, warning people against taking part in protests that were not sanctioned.
As his supporters are facing mounting pressure from the authorities, speaking from jail by the video link on Thursday, Mr. Navalny tried to lift their spirits.
“They aren’t the masters of our country and will never be,” Mr. Navalny said, referring to Mr. Putin and his government.
“Many people, tens of millions, agree with me,” he said. “And we will never allow for these people to capture and rob our country.”