Supporters of the detained Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny took to the streets in Russia on Wednesday evening to show their support for the well-known Kremlin critic. At least a thousand protesters would have been arrested.
The demonstrations gradually spread across the country from the east, where it is hours later. Police reported that in the capital Moscow about 6,000 people took part in the illegal protest, in Saint Petersburg 4,500.
Smaller demonstrations with hundreds of participants had already been reported in cities in the Far East, such as Vladivostok and Irkutsk. Protesters demand the resignation of President Vladimir Putin. Observers spoke of significant numbers of participants, but turnout lagged behind the massive rallies following Navalny’s arrest in January.
With their actions, the protesters defied the authorities, who closed off parts of centers in several cities, such as in Moscow and Yekaterinburg. According to the Russian organization OVD-Info, which keeps track of protests and arrests, more than a thousand people have now been arrested in more than fifty cities.
Earlier on Wednesday, a spokesman and a lawyer for Navalny were arrested in Moscow. NRC correspondent Eva Cukier reported on Twitter that she was arrested at the start of the demonstration in Yaroslavl, but was released after three hours.
Attention to Navalny’s plight
Navalny’s team had announced protests in more than 200 Russian towns to draw attention to the plight of 44-year-old Navalny, who went on a hunger strike a few weeks ago.
Earlier protests by Navalny supporters have also arrested thousands of people. The crackdown by the authorities has sparked international criticism. Especially in Western countries there is great disapproval of the detention and treatment of Navalny.
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