08/07/2019, 10.05
RUSSIA
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Moscow, tension between protesters and police rises

by Vladimir Rozanskij

More "walks" (unauthorized events) and new arrests planned for August 10.  The protest was born from demand that all opposition candidates be guaranteed place  in municipal elections, but it has become a movement of intolerance towards Putin.  Thousands of arrests, use of batons and tear gas, fingerprinting and DNA, phones seized, internet blocked.  But the bold and provocative attitude of young people grows.

 

 

Moscow (AsiaNews) - The second week of protests for supporting "opposition" candidates in the parliamentary elections of the capital, is leading to a radicalization of clashes with police resulting in  increasingly violent repression.  The "walk" of last August 3 produced a thousand police arrests.  10 August next could provoke even more dramatic clashes, with new unauthorized marches, "until all candidates are admitted", as protesters demand.

The police reaction, in addition to the use of batons and tear gas, also extends to the taking of fingerprints and DNA, phone seizures and obscuring internet connections, to try to prevent gatherings from the beginning.

The president of the Human Rights Council, Mikhail Fedotov, organized a meeting on the evening of Monday 5 August, to try to establish the level of violations of the rights of the events linked to the last so-called "walk through the streets" of Moscow.

The detainees were distributed among more than 50 city police stations, and the violations of their rights seem to have been much higher than similar events in the past, so much so as to widely discredit the police in the eyes of public opinion.  Many of those detained, often very young and under age, had read passages from the constitution before the policemen, who considered this action "subversive", according to article 19 of the penal code ("resistance to the demands of the police")  .  Many passers-by who had stopped to observe were also arrested: the boulevards are in fact the traditional walking area of ​​the Muscovites.  Particularly unpopular with the police were the "flying interviews" granted in front of video cameras and mobile phones.

The taking of fingerprints and epithelial fragments allows the police to compare the identities of the protesters of 27 July with those of 3 August, creating an increasingly repressive spiral towards the thousands of people who intend to continue to demonstrate in public.  Igor Kaljapin, a member of the "Anti-Torture Committee" organization, who was also arrested on August 3rd, called the police behavior "an arbitrary parade" and a "manifesto of threats".  The detainees were released only after the "intercession" of some representative of the authorities.

The protesters are in turn launching an appeal for the "de-anonymisation" of the police officers, in an attempt to secure their identities and thus be able to report them, above all thanks to the exchange of information on social networks.  The radicalization also derives from the fact that for several months no more unauthorized demonstrations were taking place in Moscow and in the other Russian cities, following increasingly restrictive measures enforced by the authorities;  these days, young people are pursuing an unprecendented challenging attitude, as stated by the head of the Foundation for Civil Society Development, Konstantin Kostin.

The protest is actually superceding the very reasons for which it begun, the Moscow Duma elections, and is increasingly taking on the contours of a movement of intolerance towards the Putin regime.  The consequences of these weeks of clashes now seem rather unpredictable.

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