02/09/2021, 10.09
RUSSIA
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St. Petersburg: police arrest deaf mute person 'for shouting slogans' in favour of Naval'nyj

by Vladimir Rozanskij

Hundreds of people walking on the street were also arrested. Vladislav Inozemtsev: "The third Putinian decade will be a long reign of terror and violence". The opposition movement sets its sights on the upcoming elections in September.

Moscow (AsiaNews) - The Omon, the special riot police, arrested a hearing-impaired and aphasic person in St. Petersburg, Yevgeny Agafonov, accusing him and then fining him for having "chanted slogans along with others in the middle of the street", despite Yevgeny only being able to express himself through sign language.

The incident took place on Sunday 7 February, when security forces were heavily deployed to block any demonstration in the "two capitals", Moscow and St. Petersburg.

Agafonov was detained at the police station for nine hours, without being able to complete the report, also for the refusal of the policemen to call an interpreter of the language of gestures. Lawyer Sergej Loktev explained that Yevgeny could not understand his rights due to deafness.

The judge to whom he was sent back decided to fine him 5 thousand rubbles (about 60 euros). Last weekend, the leaders of the Naval'nyj movement had decided not to instigate people to take to the streets again, to avoid new arrests (which have already reached over 10,000 in recent days) and mass violence. But the charge of chanting slogans in public was applied to hundreds of people, who simply walked down a street.

In an interview with currentime.tv, economist and sociologist Vladislav Inozemtsev commented that "the third Putinian decade will be a long reign of terror and violence", which will be difficult to counter.

Even Western economic sanctions will have very limited effects, both because it will be difficult to make them more effective than they are now, and because the Russian economy has now adapted to become more self-sufficient.

The catastrophic visit to Moscow by the EU's High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security, the Spaniard Joseph Borrel, on 6 February, which ended with the expulsion of three European diplomats, confirms that external pressure can do little at this juncture.

The Navalnyi Anti-Corruption Fund stated, however, that there will be no more protest rallies until spring, "in order not to paralyze the work of our local groups, and not to interrupt the preparation of the election campaign for September, on which Aleksej Navalnyy asks us all to concentrate”. This appeal does not exclude that there may be new spontaneous demonstrations, whose participants are not only supporters of Naval’nyj or members of their committees.

Precisely in view of the parliamentary elections, it seems rather unlikely that Naval’ny himself will be released from captivity in the short term, despite the appeals against his sentence. The Avanti Association, of "patriotic entrepreneurs", has proposed banning participation in elections for all Naval'nyj relatives and for anyone convicted of the protests, starting with Julia Naval'naja, the wife of the opponent.

The aim is "to avoid repeating the Belarusian scenario", where the wives of the condemned ended up leading the protest in place of their imprisoned husbands. The members of Avanti also propose to remove any Russian citizen recognized as a "foreign agent", ie having contacts with foreign sponsors, perhaps only through social media from being a candidate.

With an article on his blog on February 6, entitled "Without Putinism and Populism", the leader of the Russian liberals and head of the Yabloko party, Grigorij Javlinsky, harshly criticized Naval’nyj himself, accusing him of unrealistic leaderism.

The criticism retraces an old controversy between the two: Navalny himself left the liberal party over a decade ago, criticising its policy as ineffective, despite the party’s claim that it was the only real "democratic opposition" against the Putin regime.

Instead Javlinsky was in turn criticized by his own supporters, who believe it necessary to support Naval'nyj today. It is likely that the discussion will become increasingly heated in the coming months. Some speak of the "Bolshevization of the protest" after the suspension of the demonstrations, strengthening the "local groups" of opponents who will become more effective, such as the revolutionary Soviets. There is certainly a very relevant factor: Naval'nyj's popularity among young people is growing rapidly, as several polls have shown. At the same time as a collapse of support for Putin.

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