Hundreds Detained in Anti-Putin Protests

  • At least 100 protesters were detained on Wednesday night in central Moscow.
  • In Khabarovsk, meanwhile, protests against the arrest of Governor Sergey Furgal, accused of ordering killings, have continued.
  • The country’s opposition has mantained that the vote was marred by irregularities.

The recent Russian constitutional amendments that give leeway for President Vladimir Putin to remain in power for another 16 years have created some sort of backlash amongst a section of Russians towards the president. This sentiment is seemingly spreading throughout Russia fast and furiously. 

A constitutional referendum was held in Russia from 25 June to 1 July 2020. The amendments include one allowing President Putin to run again for two more six-year presidential terms, something he has not yet ruled out. Critics have accused him of plotting to stay in power for life, while supporters have lauded the inclusion of the amendment.

At least 100 protesters were detained on Wednesday night in central Moscow in protest against the amendments to the constitution that were recently approved in a controversial vote. The protesters are also collecting signatures in opposition to the constitutional ammendments.

Elsewhere, in Russia’s Far East town of Khabarovsk, next to the border with China, protests continued against the arrest of the popular local governor, Sergey Furgal, who is not part of the official United Russia party.  

The action in the capital had been called “Nyet” by the organization, which had campaigned against the constitutional amendments, even though the Moscow municipal authorities had refused to grant prior authorization.

Opposition activists say the vote was illegitimate, and want Putin, who has been at the helm of Russia’s leadership for over two decades as president or prime minister, to vacate the office. “I came here to sign the petition against the constitutional reforms because I am a nationalist,” said a 40-year old man as protesters chanted, “Putin is a thief.”

Vasilisa, a fourteen-year-old girl, told Reuters news that she had also signed the petition, stating that Putin “is to blame for the poverty in our country”.  She lamented, “gay people are killed here, women are beaten up here, and no one is ever held accountable.”

In addition to the usual slogans, such as “one, two, three, Putin go away,” “Russia will be free,” and “the best amendment— Putin’s resignation,” the demonstrators also carried placards that read, “we are the Constitution of Russia,” “no to the amendments,” and “no to Putin.”

Tension in Khabarovsk

Sergey Furgal is a Russian politician who serves as Governor of Khabarovsk Krai since 28 September 2018. On 9 July 2020, Furgal was arrested by authorities on charges of involvement in multiple murders. He stands accused of involvement in the murders of several businessmen in the region and nearby territories in 2004 and 2005.

In Khabarovsk, meanwhile, protests against the arrest of Furgal, accused of ordering killings, have continued. On Saturday, tens of thousands of people took to the streets, although the actions have been losing steam over the days.

The protesters believe that the case was fabricated to remove the opposition politician from office. Given the chaotic turn of events, and with the aim of calming tempers, the Kremlin dispatched Yuri Trutnev, a deputy minister and a special envoy to the city, to cool down tempers and craft out a solution. 

In addition to reseting Putin’s term limits, the constitutional amendments also ban same-sex marriage, amongst other changes. The country’s opposition has however mantained that the vote was marred by irregularities.

Alexei Navalny a Russian politician from the opposition side, said at the time of the release of the referendum results that Putin was keen on making himself “president for life.”

Like other critics of the Kremlin, he said that the election was not fair. “The ‘results’ they have just announced are a fake and a huge lie. They don’t have anything to do with the opinion of Russian citizens,” Navalny said.

“We’ll never recognize this result,” Navalny told supporters in via a video.

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Vincent Ferdinand

News reporting is my thing. My view of what is happening in our world is colored by my love of history and how the past influences events taking place in the present time.  I like reading politics and writing articles. It was said by Geoffrey C. Ward, "Journalism is merely history's first draft." Everyone who writes about what is happening today is indeed, writing a small part of our history.

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