Navalny Protesters Detained Across Russia for a Second Weekend  

Navalny Protesters Detained Across Russia for a Second Weekend  

MOSCOW – A broad coalition of protesters has taken to the streets in Russia’s cities and towns to show support for a jailed opposition politician, despite increasing police violence.

Alexei Navalny

and express a growing anger against the Kremlin.

Protesters in the Far Eastern city of Vladivostok rallied on the ice of the Bay of Love on Sunday to escape police after barricading themselves in the central square. In Moscow, demonstrators gathered in front of the prison where Mr Navalny is being held. Elsewhere, they gathered in the main squares and confronted the riot police.

Thousands of people took part in the demonstrations on Sunday, which will be a test of the resilience of the protest movement set in motion by the arrest of Mr Navalny on 17 March. The month of January has begun. He was arrested after returning from Germany, where he was recovering from a poisoning that sparked nationwide protests last weekend.

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The protests go beyond supporters to include others expressing anger at the decline in living standards and the curtailment of political freedoms. Last week, a survey showed that more than 40% of protesters were demonstrating for the first time.

Daniel Prokopenko,

Last weekend, the 29-year-old, who took part in the first anti-Kremlin demonstration in recent history in the small southern town of Anapa, said he had a mixed attitude toward Mr. Navalny, but that the whole system created under the presidency

Vladimir Putin

favours a small, educated elite and nips change in the bud through corruption, a distorted legal system and rigged elections.

We have reached a point where staying home is riskier than going out, says Prokopenko, who works as a courier. He said he gave up his dream of becoming a judge when he saw that he needed political connections to advance after college.

I can’t remember when so many people have taken to the streets to show the authorities that we are fed up and won’t put up with it anymore, he said.

Russian authorities have stepped up pressure on the leaders of protest movements since last weekend’s demonstrations, which saw more than 4 000 people arrested across the country. Police searched Navalny’s home in a Moscow suburb and arrested his brother, who was staying there. Other high-ranking allies of Navalny have also been detained, both in Moscow and in other cities.

Protesters and law enforcement clash in Moscow on Sunday.

Photo:

maximum shemets/reuters

At least 1,000 protesters were arrested across the country Sunday afternoon, according to OVD-Info, a group that monitors police arrests. OMON agents arrested in Moscow

Yulia Navalnaya,

Mr Navalny’s wife. Elsewhere in the city, police chased protesters through the snow in freezing temperatures and loaded them into police vans.

As with other protest movements in recent years, the Kremlin hopes to rely on law enforcement and the judiciary to undermine the momentum by jailing leaders, if only temporarily, and discouraging potential participants.

The Kremlin’s strategy is very clear. She hopes to survive the protests, so we see a certain level of violence and repression to discourage frightened people and slowly build confidence and momentum, he said.

Mark Galeotti,

Expert for Russian law enforcement, but not so much as to create a case of selebras or martyrdom.

The state needs enough violence to remind people of the means of repression it has in its arsenal, Galeotti said.

Putin can also count on the mass of the population to work for the state, for many state-owned companies or for companies loyal to the Kremlin.

Demonstrations in support of Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny broke out across Russia and led to the arrest of more than 3,000 protesters. Navalny was born on the 17th. January arrested on his return from Germany. Photo: Dmitry Lovetsky/AP (Published January 24, 2021)

A large number of people are employed by the government and by and large they approve of Putin and are loyal to him, he said.

Lev Gudkov,

Director of the Levada Center, independent sociologist.

Putin enjoyed a surge in popularity for years after Moscow’s intervention in Ukraine and annexation of Crimea, but chronic economic problems and shrinking space for political activism have eroded his approval rating, which currently sits at an all-time low of 60%, Gudkov said.

But Navalny, who has amassed millions online by exposing the corruption and excesses of the Kremlin elite, is trying to escape this support, which analysts say is underpinned by the country’s general political apathy and the steady stream of state television that Putin cultivates.

Mr Navalny has been working for years to turn the estate into a national opposition movement. He is now trying to use this movement as a locomotive for protests in a country where people have been living under Putin’s regime for 20 years and where the Russian leader’s friends and associates are getting rich off government contracts and oil and gas reserves.

Shortly after his arrest in January, Navalny’s team released a video showing the palace allegedly built for Putin. The video stunned Russians and has since been viewed more than 100 million times.

Authorities deny that the palace belongs to Mr Putin. Saturday,

Arkady Rotenberg,

an old friend of Mr Putin’s, claimed to be the owner.

Ivan Zhdanov,

The director of Mr. Navalny’s Anti-Corruption Foundation said the palace contrasts with the despair many feel in their own lives.

People have become angrier and angrier because they increasingly see that there is no way out, Zhdanov said. We have seen little support for Covid’s actions, nothing changes for the better, only always for the worse.

The protests followed a series of constitutional and legislative changes passed last year that laid the groundwork for Putin to remain in power until 2036 or take another, more ceremonial post if he decides to step down. These plans, largely drawn up by the government, aroused the anger of many citizens who felt they had no say in the country’s future.

A majority of Russians voted in a referendum last year in favor of a constitutional amendment allowing Mr. Putin to extend his mandate, but human rights groups criticized the vote, arguing that some were forced to vote and that the campaign surrounding the vote was one-sided.

His ratings are dropping, there is a question of legitimacy if he wants to stay on his throne forever.

Alexandra Kampinski,

The 35-year-old photographer drove through Moscow on Sunday, singing the latest Soviet protest song Change.

Email Thomas Grove at [email protected]

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