Thousands of Russians took to the streets for an anti-corruption rally against Putin’s regime despite the same-day arrest of Alexei Navalny, leader of the Russian opposition party, for organizing protests the government called unlawful.
Navalny was sentenced to 30 days in jail for organizing Monday’s unauthorized protests, which drew thousands to the streets. He intends to run for president of Russia in the coming year on a democratic, anti-corruption platform. Similar anti-corruption and anti-Putin demands were voiced by the protesters in Moscow, shouting phrases such as “Russia will be free” and “Navalny, President.”
Large protests took place in Russia’s three largest cities—Moscow, St. Petersburg, and Novosibirsk-and smaller protests were granted permits in 169 other locations across the country. Navalny called for these anti-corruption protests to be held on Monday as it was Russia Day, a widely celebrated national holiday.
Arrests were widespread at the larger protests, especially in Moscow, where Russian authorities quickly moved to dismantle the peaceful protest near the Kremlin. Riot police arrived and arrested members of the crowd at random including young girls that look as though they are barely teenagers. BBC reports that 825 people were detained at the approximately 5,000 person protest in Moscow.
Putin’s methods of dealing with these protests that are against his regime are consistent with his harsh handling of policies that he does not agree with, including gay rights.
Other Putin political opponents have been less lucky than Navally and have been killed by ’incidental’ or violent means. Boris Nemstov also held many protests outside the Kremlin and was arrested multiple times before being suspiciously shot in Ukraine just two years ago. The Washington Post lists him among many other political opponents of Putin that met unfortunate ends. The New York Times reported earlier this year that Denis Voronenkov was scheduled to testify against the previously Russia-aligned leader of Ukraine, Viktor Yanukovych but was killed before he was able testify.
Media Resources: Financial Times 06/13/17, BBC News 06/13/17, The Independent 06/13/17, Washington Post 03/23/17, New York Times 3/23/2017