The Kremlin says many of those involved in protests against the jailing of opposition politician Alexei Navalny are “hooligans and provocateurs.” Spokesman Dmitry Peskov was speaking a day after tens of thousands rallied in cities across Russia to call for Navalny’s release. More than 5000 people were arrested during the demonstrations. Critics accuse the police of using excessive force.
They were warned, but they marched anyway: Anti-government protestors all over Russia demanding the release of opposition leader Alexei Navalny. They defied a ban by the Kremlin. The response was brutal. In a show of force, many were arrested. Some were beaten, some hit with taser-like devices.
In Moscow alone, thousands marched, constantly changing their route in an attempt to evade the police. Some gathered outside the prison where Alexei Navalny is being held. For many of them the protests are about more than just the opposition leader’s arrest: Protestors also say they are marching against corruption, and FOR more democratic freedoms in Russia.
Moscow was still asleep Sunday, when protests started in Russia’s far east, in Siberia. As dawn spread across Russia, pro-Navalny rallies spanned across the countries 11 time zones. But so did the forceful response by the authorities.
For many people, this is the first time they have ever attended a protest. Until recently, they didn’t care about Alexey Navalny. But his arrest at a Moscow airport on return from Germany outraged many Russians.
Some call this Russia’s most aggressive and fear inducing nationwide operation. But others say the government’s attempts to overwhelm the protests, might actually fuel the flames of the Russian opposition and the voices calling for change.
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