More detentions & clashes with police as second consecutive weekend of pro-Navalny rallies throughout Russia appeal to smaller crowds


Thousands of individuals once more took to the streets throughout Russia on Sunday to name for the discharge of opposition determine Alexey Navalny. While most have been uneventful, some marches spiraled into confrontation between police and protesters.

It marks the second weekend in a row the place crowds have turned out to point out help for the jailed anti-corruption activist, who’s presently awaiting trial for breaching the phrases of a suspended sentence for fraud. However, these on the bottom in lots of cities reported smaller numbers of demonstrators than final Saturday.

In St. Petersburg, which has seen a number of the most pronounced violence over the previous fortnight, a video emerged of a tense standoff between officers and protesters. After a small group of police have been chased down a road off the town’s Sennaya Square, one officer, who had stumbled after being kicked by a pro-Navalny marcher, drew his service pistol.

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Other clips from Russia’s second largest metropolis confirmed traces of OMON troops, the nation’s specialist riot police, beating their shields and pushing again waves of demonstrators. Later on Sunday, the native Investigative Committee’s press service reported {that a} man who had punched a police officer a number of instances within the head had been arrested.

The Union of Journalists of Russia issued a warning after 60 media employees have been detained. At least eight of these held by police have been in St. Petersburg and pictures confirmed a reporter in a fluorescent yellow ‘press’ vest being carried off to a ready automobile. Journalists had been requested to put on the clothes to establish themselves in the course of the occasions.

There had been experiences that stun grenades and tear gasoline have been used to interrupt up the gang within the historic metropolis heart, and one video confirmed protesters screaming after a loud explosion overhead. However, the Ministry of Internal Affairs denied that flashbangs or tear gasoline had been used, with different sources suggesting a demonstrator had thrown a firecracker.

Despite a common lower within the numbers of these taking to the streets, in comparison with the earlier week, Novosibirsk, Russia’s third largest city heart and the executive heart of the Siberian Federal District, noticed giant crowds. It was reported by native media that no less than 5,000 folks had turned as much as the demonstrations in temperatures of -20 levels Celsius (-4 Fahrenheit). However, Moscow each day Kommersant stated its correspondent on the bottom believed there have been solely 2,000 current, and native officers counted 1,300. In whole, greater than 150 folks have been arrested within the metropolis, in keeping with authorities.

In Moscow, most of the roads and metro stations round Lubyanka Square, the place the Federal Security Service (FSB) has its headquarters, have been closed. However, a column of marchers gathered additional east near the Matrosskaya Tishina pre-trial detention facility the place Navalny himself is being held. Dozens have been arrested near the jail, and a separate group who gathered at close by Leningradsky Station have been additionally dispersed, and regular prepare service resumed within the early night. Navalny’s spouse, Yulia, was additionally detained within the capital.

As a part of their makes an attempt to quell the unrest, safety forces within the capital reportedly deployed stun weapons and cattle-prod electrical batons. One man shocked with a non-lethal gadget appeared to lose consciousness earlier than being carried off by police.

Another protester was arrested after he approached a line of OMON troops and drew a bat from inside his jacket. However, earlier than he was in a position to swing it, an officer knocked him to the bottom and he was taken into custody .

One Navalny supporter, Dima Volzhsky, took to Twitter to say he had been held at a police station for greater than three hours. “I have disabilities,” he stated, “and it is illegal to keep people with them for more than three hours.” “They did not allow a lawyer to come with me and tried to make me answer questions without one. I am being held illegally,” he added.

At the identical time, the pinnacle of Russia’s Presidential Council for the Development of Civil Society and Human Rights slammed the unauthorized rallies, that are prohibited below coronavirus measures. Valery Fadeev stated that “what we are seeing today has nothing to do with protecting rights or fighting for a better life.” He added that “the call of activists to go to Lubyanka, to Staraya Square [both in Moscow], where the FSB buildings are located, where the presidential administration buildings are located – there is nothing behind this but provocation.” 

However, the US authorities was fast to concern a press release criticizing Russian authorities’ response to the protests. New Secretary of State Anthony Blinken stated that the administration “condemns the persistent use of harsh tactics against peaceful protesters and journalists by Russian authorities for a second week straight. We renew our call for Russia to release those detained for exercising their human rights, including Alexey Navalny.” 

Supporters of the jailed anti-corruption activist renewed calls on the White House to use a contemporary wave of sanctions in opposition to Russia on Sunday. A letter from the Anti-Corruption Foundation (FBK), established by Navalny in 2011 and registered in Russia as a international agent, listed 35 people it stated ought to face punitive measures for being “corrupt Russian allies of President [Vladimir] Putin.” 

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Leonid Volkov, who as soon as served as Navalny’s chief of workers, has performed a major position in organizing the protests from Lithuania, the place he now lives. He completed up a livestream broadcast calling an finish to the day of protesting, as folks had already begun submitting home. Volkov added {that a} new wave of demonstrations can be deliberate for February 2, to coincide with the primary day of Navalny’s trial.

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