- Thousands of people ignored the government's warnings and took to the streets of several Russian cities, from Vladivostok to St. Petersburg, in the second weekend of protests against the arrest of Navalny
- United States Secretary of State Antony Blinken criticized the crackdown on demonstrations for "persistent use of brutal tactics" and urged "the release those in prison, including Alexei Navalny".
- “People are angry because of what is happening and because deputies and opposition activists were arrested this week,” said Khelga Pirogova, local elected representative of a pro-Navalny coalition.
Russian police arrested more than 3,000 people on Sunday during new demonstrations across the country to demand the release of the nation’s opposition chief, Alexei Navalny. Thousands of people ignored the government’s warnings and took to the streets of several Russian cities, from Vladivostok to St. Petersburg.
This is the second weekend of protests against the arrest of Navalny, President Vladimir Putin’s main opponent.
Navalny’s wife, Yulia Navalnaya, was arrested on her way to a demonstration as was reported by various opposition media. Today’s demos were the second ones.
The first demonstrations took place on Saturday of last week and brought together tens of thousands of protesters and resulted in more than 4,000 imprisonments.
United States Secretary of State Antony Blinken criticized the crackdown on demonstrations for “persistent use of brutal tactics” and urged “the release those in prison, including Alexei Navalny”.
Russia’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs was quick to denounce these accusations as Russia’s “gross interference in internal affairs”.
In Novosibirsk, Russia’s third-largest city, independent media outlets estimated the number of demonstrators at more than 5,000, one of the largest mobilizations in the past two years.
“People are angry because of what is happening and because deputies and opposition activists were arrested this week,” said Khelga Pirogova, local elected representative of a pro-Navalny coalition.
Many of his close allies placed under house arrest on Friday, two days away from a series of search and seizure. The Putin security officials also visited Navalny’s wife Yulia’s home and the facilities of Navalny’s party offices.
In previous days, the authorities had alerted Navalny’s supporters. The police say the protesters can be prosecuted for “mass riots” and becoming violent.
For its part, the telecommunications oversight body Roskomnadzor announced that it would sanction social media for online messaging, secondly, encouraging minors to protest.
The protests are also fueled by the dissemination of an investigation by the opponent accusing President Vladimir Putin of benefiting from a huge “palace” on the shores of the Black Sea, an investigation seen more than 100 million times on YouTube.
Vladimir Putin has denied accusations intended to “brainwash” the Russians, while state television broadcast images showing the residence still under construction, far from the luxury described by the opponent.
On Saturday, billionaire Arkadi Rotenberg, a close friend of Putin’s who is under his Western sanctions, claimed to be the real owner of the residence and said he was building a hotel.
The Kremlin’s anti-corruption activist and jury, Alexei Navalny, 44, returned to Russia on January 17 after months of treatment in Germany due to an instance of alleged poisoning by the Russian authorities which Vladimir Putin denies.