Tens of thousands of people in Russia are participating in the demonstrations called for today in almost 200 cities throughout the country to demand the release of the main adversary of the Kremlin, Alexei Navalni, who was arrested on 17 December. January just back from Germany. His wife, Julia, has also taken to the streets in Moscow to protest and has just been arrested by the police. The total number of arrested across Russia at the present time exceeds 2,300.
The mobilizations began in Vladivostok, in the Russian Far East, where, as on January 23, the Police have once again intervened with extreme harshness. There the number of detainees now exceeds one hundred. Later, the protest actions have been moving towards the west, through the different time bands. Again, many people have taken to the streets in Khabarovsk, Irkutsk, Omsk, Novosibirsk, the first city in Siberia and third in Russia, also in Yekaterinburg, Saratov, Murmansk, Rostov-on-Don and many others.
In Saint Petersburg, protesters changed meeting places several times because Nevsky Avenue, completely taken over by the crowd on the 23rd, was today cordoned off by riot control forces, as was most of the city’s historic center.
Sénnaya Square, near the center of the former Russian imperial capital, is being the point of greatest influx of the public and, therefore, the scene of numerous arrests and strong clashes with the Police, who have used tear gas. Different Telegram channels put about 5,000 people the number of people who have taken to the streets in Saint Petersburg, where, according to OVD-Info, a website that monitors the repressive actions of the Police, there have already been some 200 arrests .
In Moscow, the protests have also been divided into different environments because the initial place of the convocation, Lubyanka Square, where the headquarters of the FSB, the Russian secret services, was already blocked yesterday, as was the entire area that surrounds the Kremlin. Seven metro stations in the center stopped operating this morning and many others, unannounced in advance, have also been closed as the protests moved from one place to another.
The first alternative site of the demonstration was Sújarevskaya Square, in the northeast part of the Garden Ring. There have been clashes with riot police and the first arrests have taken place. From there, the demonstration has advanced to the Krásnie Vorota square and then to the so-called Komsomólskaya square or the Three Stations, railway, where again the Police have intervened. Photos released by social media show some officers using electroshock devices against protesters.
The groups of people who have been dissolved are now continuing their march towards Sokólniki Park and a small part towards the Matrósskaya Tishiná prison, where Navalni is being held. According to sources, the numbers of participants in the protest action in the Russian capital vary between 5,000 and 10,000 people. The truth is that, since the concentrations are divided at various points, the task of calculating the number of protesters becomes very complicated, a factor that, apparently, the authorities have taken into account to avoid the image of success that the convocation of the Saturday 23. The number of arrested at the present time in Moscow, according to OVD-Info, exceeds 500.