Protests in Major Russian Cities, Hundreds Arrested

A Journal of People report

Thousands of opposition supporters rallied across Russia against government corruption on March 26, 2017. The protests may be the biggest anti-Kremlin protest since 2012. A number of these protests were approved by authorities while a few were not approved.

Media reports said:

Unsanctioned rallies in several cities including Moscow, Saint Petersburg and Vladivostok sprung up after anti-corruption campaigner Alexei Navalny published allegations that prime minister Dmitry Medvedev had accumulated a massive fortune surpassing his official salary.

Authorities arrested hundreds of demonstrators, including Navalny, who plans to run against president Vladimir Putin in the 2018 election, and Guardian reporter Alec Luhn, who was covering the protests. Luhn was released without any charges immediately after it was established that he was a journalist.

A report by The Financial Times said:

The rallies attracted an “[u]nprecedented number of young Russians,” and grew to massive numbers in cities where Putin once commanded strong support.

A BBC report said:

Demonstrators waved signs with rubber ducks, a reference to Navalny’s allegation that Medvedev has a house for one of his ducks.

Many protestors donned green face paint in a callback to Navalny being attacked with green liquid last week and blocked the car transporting him after he was detained in Moscow.

The rallies were held in Moscow, St. Petersburg, Yekaterinburg, Irkutsk, Saratov, Tomsk, Krasnodar, Novosibirsk, Vladivostok and Kazan.

The biggest of the protests was in Moscow with some 8,000 people taking part. Some 600 people were detained in Moscow.

Opposition supporters in Moscow moved a car to block a van transporting detained Navalny during the protest rally.

In St. Petersburg, the number of protesters was around 3,000. The local police told 131 people were detained during the rally. Four of them were facing administrative action for minor violations.

In most of the opposition rallies, police released those detained shortly afterward. The usual procedure for such cases of detention, not an actual “arrest”, is to identify the individuals for potential administrative action and then release them.

In Vladivostok, around 500 people took part in the protest, and 25 of the protesters faced administrative charges.

In Krasnodar, an organizer of the unapproved rally was detained after one of the protesters threw a smoke stick at a group of people standing nearby.

In Kazan, the protest rally was not approved by authorities. But police did not intervene in the rally.

Some 1,500 people joined the rally in Novosibirsk.

In Saratov, some 400 people took part in the protest.

In Tomsk, an estimated 400 protesters participated.

In Irkutsk, some 300 people joined the protest.

In Belgorod, around 150 people took part in the protest.

Navalny, the opposition activist known as anti-corruption, called on supporters to protest on March 26, weeks after releasing a report alleging corruption involving Medvedev.

Navalny tried to take part in a large unsanctioned rally in central Moscow but was detained shortly after arriving at the scene.

Navalny was charged with violating an administrative code regulating public gatherings and is facing a fine, community service, or administrative detention.

Protesters came despite failing to receive permission to hold a rally at the site of their choosing. The authorities suggested two alternative locations for the event, but the organizers rejected them. Moscow police warned earlier that participating in the unsanctioned rally could pose a risk to personal safety.

A man with a gun was among those detained at the Moscow rally. One police officer suffered a head injury during the protests. He was hit in the head by one of the rally participants. The officer was hospitalized with a brain injury. A video that emerged online show a riot police officer was lying on the ground, seemingly unconscious.

Law enforcement officer said somebody sprayed “irritant gas” in Moscow’s Pushkin Square rally, but rejected reports that it was part of a police action.



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