More than 1,500 arrested in protests in Russia in support of Navalny

A police officer detains a protester in the Russian city of Novosibirsk

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A police officer detains a protester in the Russian city of Novosibirsk

More than 1,500 people have been arrested this Sunday (31.01.2021) in the protests that take place throughout Russia in support of the opposition leader Alexéi Navalny, in preventive detention after his return from Germany, where he was recovering from the poisoning he suffered last year .

According to the OVD-info portal, specialized in monitoring arrests, in the demonstrations, which are held in 142 cities of the country, the Russian security forces have so far detained 1,502 people, of which the majority, 307, have been have produced in Moscow.

In the first protest in support of Navalny on the 23rd, more than 4,000 people were arrested across the country, often with the use of excessive force.

In Moscow, where the protest began at 0900 GMT, the arrests began even before the start of the march, initially convened in Lubyanka Square, where the headquarters of the Federal Security Service (FSB, former KGB) is located.

The security cordon installed with fences, police force and closures of the nearest metro stations, prevented most of the protesters from reaching Lubyanka, so Navalny’s team announced a change in the route to establish the points of meeting at Sújarveskaya and Krasnye Vorota stops.

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There the police were already waiting for the protesters at the exits of the subway and proceeded to massively detain anyone who approached the meeting place. Shortly after, the Moscow Department of Transport announced the closure of these two metro stations as well.

One of the detainees complained: “I was just passing by here, why me?” A woman carrying a placard was immediately arrested and taken to one of the multiple police vans parked near the entrance to the Sújarveskaya metro.

Passing cars honk in support of the protesters, while a loudspeaker warns citizens through a recorded message not to “be provoked” by those calling to participate in the protest.

The large number of arrests makes it difficult to estimate the participation of Muscovites in the protest. The Moscow Department for Regional Security and the Fight against Corruption has indicated to the Interfax agency that there are about 300 people.

Siege of Navalny’s Allies

Navalny’s main allies, such as his “number two”, Liubov Sóbol, his brother Oleg or the opposition doctor Anastasía Vasílieva cannot participate in the protests, given that they were given a two-month house arrest on Friday.

The wife of Yulia Navalnaya, who was arrested in the first protest on the 23rd and whose apartment was subsequently searched, wrote this Sunday on her Telegram account, under a photograph of her family, that her husband was arrested after having survived the poisoning last year and his brother Olego for having the same last name.

“If we are silent, tomorrow they will come for any of us,” he said.

eal (efe, afp, reuters)

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