The re were many young people and middle-class people among the thousands of protesters in Moscow. Activists and journalists complained that the internet was being throttled. “Putin wor” – “Putin is a thief!” – shouted people in Moscow and many other cities. It was the phrase of the day that connected the many demonstrators across the country, even over the huge distances. It was not just about the robbery of democratic rights, many shouted: “Russia will be free!”.
In total, tens of thousands of people demonstrated for Navalny’s freedom and against President Vladimir Putin in around 100 Russian cities. The team of the opposition, who was the victim of a poison attack in August, spoke of a “grandiose all-Russian action”. How successful the opposition’s call to protest would ultimately be could not be foreseen until the end. At the end of the day it was clear that many Russian cities had seen the largest unauthorized protests in years – including Tomsk in Siberia, where Navalny was poisoned five months ago. Political scientist Tatiana Stanowaja commented that state power made two mistakes: “ The poisoning of Navalny and his arrest.”
A video in social networks that showed a woman brutally kicking away in a police officer in St. Petersburg caused horror. According to media reports, the 54-year-old suffered a traumatic brain injury. She is in the hospital and is unconscious. Investigators announced they would look into the case. In many cities, protesters held up toilet brushes – an allusion to the fact that there is an Italian toilet brush worth 700 euros in the bathroom of Putin’s huge palace. The Kremlin denies the allegations in the film, which was viewed more than 77 million times by Sunday morning. Nawalny’s supporters announced that they want to continue the protests.
The EU foreign affairs representative Josep Borrell sharply criticized the actions of the Russian authorities against the demonstrations on Saturday. He is concerned and will discuss the EU’s next steps with the foreign ministers of the EU states at a meeting in Brussels on Monday. “People who peacefully exercise their right to assembly and freedom of expression must not be criminalized,” criticized the Foreign Ministry in Vienna in a tweet on Saturday afternoon. The protests in Russia are being followed closely and all commitments by the Council of Europe and the OSCE are expected to be honored.
Navalny faces several criminal proceedings and many years in prison in Russia. The 44-year-old is currently in custody for 30 days because he is said to have violated reporting requirements in earlier criminal proceedings – while he was recovering from the poison attack with the chemical warfare agent Novitschok in Germany.
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Russia arrests demos Navalny release