Hundreds of protesters, including opposition figure Alexei Navalny arrested in Russia

Mon 19 Jun 2017

Hundreds of protesters, including opposition figure Alexei Navalny arrested in Russia

On 12 June hundreds of protesters were detained after gathering in several cities across Russia. Opposition leader Alexei Navalny had urged his supporters to mark the Russia Day holiday, which was celebrated through series of official events, with anti-corruption protests. According to OVD, an independent organisation that tracks arrests, 825 people were detained during protests in Moscow and 548 were arrested in St. Petersburg. Many were reportedly in their teens or early 20s. Some analysts view their presence and enthusiasm as the beginning of a youth protest movement, and an indication that Russian politics is being reborn. Navalny himself wasn’t able to attend the rally in Moscow because he was arrested at his house hours before.

Change of venue

Navalny was given permission to hold the rally at a location outside Moscow’s city centre but said he had been unable to secure sound and stage equipment for the rally at the original location due to interference by city authorities. Authorities had warned him that they would intervene in any "unsanctioned" protest on the central Moscow street of Tverskaya, where Navalny had urged his supporters to gather. Several Kremlin opponents accused him of driving his followers into a guaranteed confrontation with police. Nalavny, who has been put on several - according to his supporters- politically motivated trials in the past years, is known as anti-corruption campaigner and a staunch critic of Russian President Vladimir Putin. Past March nationwide demonstrations broke out as a response to a video in which Prime-Minister Dmitry Medvedev was accused of assembling a “corruption empire”.

Prison sentence

In the evening of 12 June Navalny was sentenced to 30 days in prison for organising an unauthorized protest. Just before the sentencing Navalny said: "I rate today’s actions very well. We had an excellent geographic reach. A lot of people came out...There were rallies in cities where they’d never happened before." The demonstrations are seen by some as an effort by Navalny to increase his popularity and force the Kremlin to let him run in the March 2018 presidential election. Russian laws currently prohibit convicted people from running for office.

 

Sources: Al Jazeera, BBCCNN 1, CNN 2, NY Times,  RFERL