More than 3000 pro-Navalny protesters detained in Russia


Moscow, Russia
Photo: Maxim Shemetov/Reuters

and came to streets to demand the release of Russian opposition leader critic Alexei Navalny.

Navalny had urged his supporters to protest on Saturday after he was arrested last weekend as he returned to Russia from Germany for the first time since being poisoned with a nerve agent that he claimed to have been applied to his underpants by state security agents in August.

Authorities had warned people to stay away from the protests, saying they would risk catching COVID-19 as well as face prosecution and possible jail time for attending an unauthorized event. But protesters ignores the ban and extreme cold and turned out in force in more than 60 cities across Russia.

The OVD-Info protest monitor group said at least 3,060 people – including 1,099 in the capital, Moscow, and 386 in St Petersburg – were detained across Russia, these numbers are expected to rise.

In central Moscow, thousands of people had come together in one of the biggest unauthorized rallies for the first time in years. Riot police were seen detaining people, bundling them into vans nearby.

Navalny’s wife, Yulia, said on social media that she was also detained at the rally and was released later. Lyubov Sobol, a prominent ally of Navalny and also his lawyer, was also among the ones who were held.

Video footage that has been circulating online showed a group of protesters being chased down the street by riot police, while demonstrators in Khabarovsk, withstanding temperatures of about -14C (7F), shouted “Shame!” and “Bandits!”

Anna Matveeva, a researcher at King’s College London, spoke about the importance of the wide geographic reach of Saturday’s protests.

“The police [are] brutal; there is nothing new about it,” Matveeva told.

“But the fact that the geography of protests has spread all the way from Moscow to western Russia and also in northern states … we are seeing a consistent number of people coming out, knowing that they might be beaten, that they might be detained, that they will have criminal records. And notwithstanding that, people are [still] coming out.”

Publish : 2021-01-24 13:59:00

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