02/01/2021, 09.53
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At least 5 thousand arrests in Naval'nyj protests

by Vladimir Rozanskij

Rallies and clashes took place in Moscow, St. Petersburg and in dozens of other cities: Krasnoyarsk, Novosibirsk, Irkutsk, Barnaul, Novokuznetsk, Vladivostok, Omsk, Ekaterinburg, Chelyabinsk, Ufa, Samara and Perm. For days the police had been trying to dissuade possible demonstrators. Fr Maksim Kozlov, of the Moscow Patriarchate: “There is division in Russian society, caused by the lack of positive prospects".

Moscow (AsiaNews) - At least 5 thousand people were arrested between yesterday and today after new street protests in support of the jailed opposition leader, Alexei Navalnyj. The demonstrations, without the permission of the authorities, took place under a heavy police presence in many cities, which often prevented the marches from proceeding.

OVD-Info reports that as early as 12.30 yesterday, over 600 people had already been arrested across Russia, including over 100 in Vladivostok, and dozens in Krasnoyarsk, Novosibirsk, Irkutsk, Barnaul and Novokuznetsk. More than 30 people were arrested in Moscow this morning.

Many rallies were held in cities in the Far East and Siberia. In Novosibirsk, according to Sibir.Realii, more than 4 thousand people marched; in Irkutsk, Tyumen, Krasnoyarsk, Omsk and Vladivostok, more than 500; in several other cities, tens or hundreds more.

In Irkutsk, near Lake Baikal, Navalnyy supporters held their rally despite being surrounded on all sides (see video https://t.co/EQ1nUVNoXp pic.twitter.com/qqHugcYBBi) - @teamnavalny January 31, 2021).

In Vladivostok, they descended on the ice near the shores of the ocean, where they held a circle dance in the manner of Belarusian women. They also did the same in Ekaterinburg on the frozen pond in the city centre, also provoking the reaction of Sunday fishermen. Protest marches were also held in the Ural region, in Ekaterinburg, Chelyabinsk, Ufa, Samara and Perm. Thousands of people are estimated to have participated in these cities. Here, too, the police charged the demonstrators, and there were several arrests. It is estimated that more people participated overall than in the demonstration on 23 January.

Protest actions also took place in Moscow and St. Petersburg. In the capital, seven central subway stations were closed, and the entrance to a number of neighborhoods in the city center were blocked, the local authority closed shops and bars and the sale of alcohol was banned everywhere.

Dmitrj Nizovtsev, a correspondent for the Stab channel, was arrested in Moscow as he left his apartment. In St. Petersburg, eyewitnesses reported an unprecedented number of law enforcement officers in the centre. Traffic was blocked throughout the city centre, including bridges and Nevsky Prospekt. Navalnyj's Moscow and St. Petersburg offices have moved the protests to other places. Naval'nyj's wife Julia was arrested and later released.

The deterrent operations had already begun in the days preceding the demonstrations, with plainclothes agents ringing the doors of the apartments of people considered "at risk" (mostly through surveillance on social media), who were asked to sign a written commitment not to go to the marches. Those who refused were asked to sign a refusal report. The Home Office even went so far as to use memes, trying to dissuade people from going to rallies with the help of the dog Shiba Inu Doge and the panda Chims.

The protests in Russia resemble the demonstrations in Bolotnaja Square in 2011, repeated in subsequent years, and the protests in Khabarovsk and Minsk that began last year. For now, the authorities have adopted a strategy of targeted repression, many activists are stopped, searched and arrested, starting with Naval’ny and those closest to him. In addition, law enforcement agencies open criminal and administrative cases against protesters and those they say are organizers, using very different articles of the code for the charges against them.

Archpriest Maksim Kozlov, a member of the Supreme Ecclesiastical Council of the Moscow Patriarchate, spoke on the program "A new day" on the Spas television channel on January 27th. He admitted that "there is a rift in Russian society caused by the lack of positive prospects". He added that the protests "have led to an important clarification, revealing that the monolithic nature of Russian society is largely an illusion. I believe that not everyone in Russia is happy with the current socio-political climate."

The archpriest noted that the pandemic and related restrictions have affected people's mentality, but the main pissue is the absence of "a clear positive project" for Russia, and "this feeling is experienced more acutely by young people". The representative of the patriarchate exhorted the supporters of different opinions not to give in to mutual hatred, hoping that Russia has not yet reached the threshold after which "the peaceful solution of conflicts will become impossible".

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See also
Naval’nyi candidate wins in Tomsk
15/09/2020 08:48
Moscow, police block 'anti-Putin' Forum of independent deputies
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