The Kremlin is at a crossroads: what are the implications of the...

The Kremlin is at a crossroads: what are the implications of the protests across Russia

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Participants of the rally against corruption in St. Petersburg. March 26, 2017

Photo: Dmitry Lovetsky / AP

Sunday in Russia were organized by supporters of Alexei Navalny protest against corruption, which ended in mass arrests and clashes with police. In Moscow at spontaneous celebrations on Tverskaya street came out to 8 thousand people, and were detained more than 700. The authorities will react harshly, human rights activists and politicians

The protests in Moscow

Sunday, March 26, in Russia have been organized by supporters of opposition politician Alexei Navalny rallies against corruption. The speakers demanded of the government to give a response to the anti-corruption claims brought against Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev in the investigation of the Fund of struggle against corruption (FBK) “He’s not Dimon.”

A string of activists pulled up to the city center two hours before the official start of the rally, scheduled for 14:00. The city government has not coordinated its conduct on Tverskaya street and invited the activists to meet in Marino or Hyde Park in Sokolniki. Alternative site organizers have not arranged, and they encouraged everyone to go to the city center. Press Secretary of the President Dmitry Peskov called Navalny calls to join the campaign a “provocation”. Bulk on the Constitution has announced the promotion as legitimate and promised to help all detainee complaints to the ECHR.

Detentions didn’t have to wait long, about one o’clock the police started to catch protesters at Belorusskaya, where in addition to paddy wagons on the square was parked at least 30 orange cars on the road. By 13:30 the roadway of Tverskaya street was completely fenced off from the sidewalk by paddy and “human shield” — police and people with stripes “combatant” on the sleeves.



How did anti-corruption rally in Moscow Video: RBC

Navalny arrived to the venue about 14:00 and almost immediately was detained — at the intersection of Tverskaya and Mamonovsky pereulok. The protesters blocked the paddy wagon with him: they surrounded the bus and held him with cries of “Shame!” “Let go!” and “free Alex!”. The police tried to drag activists from the paddy wagon, however, non-lethal weapons against them was not used. However, dispersed the crowd hard. The opposition rocked the bus with the Bulk of about 15 minutes and was partitioned off the carriageway Mamonovsky pereulok. In the end, police managed to take the bus into the ring. Other security officials dragged the machine, partitioning the route of the bus (one of them, the police tore off the bumper). At 14:30 bus Bulk out of the alley, and a convoy of activists moved to Pushkin square.

“Friends! For those who came here on this beautiful spring day to Express their civic position, we remind you — there is an agreed area in Sokolniki” — said the Riot police with a megaphone on Tverskaya. By this time, at the Pushkin monument had already been mass arrests.

Crowd with posters “Corruption is stealing the future”, “do Not forget, not forgive” and “Pathetic cowardly thief” surrounded the monument to Pushkin. Every five minutes the Policemen were overpowered and put in a paddy wagon for two or three people, who held posters and chanted slogans. Those who resisted, the security forces were beaten with batons on the arms and the head, two of them handcuffed. In total, according to the calculations of RBC, per hour, from 15:30 to 16:30 at Pushkin square were detained 33 people, mostly young people and adolescents. One of the participants confirmed to RBC that the rally was joined by his entire class and that the “here today, many students, in social networks we agreed to go [to share]”.

16:20 riot police surrounded the monument to Pushkin and began to push the protesters to the edges of the square and to the metro entrances. “Go to the subway, here soon will begin road work right in this Park,” said law enforcers on the issue of the protesters about why they don’t allow “just walking in the area.” After 15 minutes, the area was completely “cleaned”, the protesters pushed in the metro and surrounding lanes.

Parallel dispersal of demonstrators the police came with a search warrant in the office of the FBC. All employees of the Fund who were in the Moscow office of the FCO in “omega Plaza”, was detained. The police in their reports write that was trying to save employees of FBK from the fire, and they resisted the rescue, said Executive Director of FBK Roman Rubanov. Therefore, the Foundation staff is charged with article 19.3 of the administrative code “disobedience to the lawful order of a police officer”.

Navalny associate Leonid Volkov can be charged under article 282 of the criminal code on extremism, said the press Secretary of the Bulk Kira Armys. Navalny, in her words, impute 20.2.2 of part 1 of the administrative code (violation of the rules of organization of meetings). In the morning on Monday, his case will consider the Tver court.

According to official data, the protests in the capital were joined by 7-8 thousand people. The total number of protesters in the 25 to 30 thousand people in Moscow and at least 150 thousand in the whole country, said RBC Armys. Witnesses countedthat went at least 15 thousand people.

For comparison, the “people’s Assembly” against the sentence Navalny in Tver in July 2013, has collected 2,5 thousand persons according to the authorities and to 20 thousand according to the opposition.

Only in Moscow were detained more than 800 people, has summed up the results of the Sunday night project “OVD-info” in Twitter. The head of Department of regional security and combating corruption Moscow Vladimir Chernikov told the “RIA Novosti more than 600 detainees.

Protest in the regions

Anti-corruption campaigns were held on Sunday in dozens of cities of Russia. Was officially agreed upon 24 meeting, however, according to the organizers of the event took place more than a hundred cities. Most of them resulted in arrests.

In Vladivostok, several hundred people gathered on the square calling for Prime Minister Medvedev. According to media reports, more than 20 of the protesters ended up in the police Department.

On sanctioned by the authorities of the rally in Novosibirsk, according to the city hall, gathered about 1.5 thousand people. Data organizers reported the number twice. Here was organized the so-called free microphone: every participant had to speak for a minute.

About 1 thousand people took part in the meeting in Yekaterinburg, conveyed regional Directorate of the interior Ministry. An unauthorized action in the area of labor turned into a procession to the Yeltsin center, where participants stated that just walking. The police drew up administrative reports for 11 people.

In front of the Musical theater of Omsk, where there were several hundred people yesterday during the protest began snow removal. To fight the snow came two tractors, a truck and some janitors.

In St. Petersburg anti-corruption rally was held on the Champ de Mars. Sounded the slogans “Medvedev, report!”, “This is our country,” “do Not lie”, “thou shalt Not steal”, “Russia — we’re it.” The protesters tried to broadcast the rally in the Periscope. In parallel to the Champ de Mars rally of the National liberation movement (NOD) in defense of “traditional values”. In the action of Nod take up to one hundred people in a rally against corruption — about 3 thousand (according to MIA). Several opposition activists were detained.

In some cities the stock symbols become a toy duck and sneakers. They were in the hands of the protesters, in the posters. In the investigation the FCO has been said about the country’s Prime Minister to the house for the ducks. The sneakers symbolized the reference to the video Fund.

The risks of the “new Bolotnaya case”

In the evening the journalist of Russian service bi-Bi-si Andrew Coulter posted on Twitter a video with the OMON officer, who lost consciousness after he was hit by the participant. The official website of the interior Ministry in Moscow said that the employee of the 2nd Operational regiment of police of the Moi of Russia in Moscow was hit on the head. Police received a traumatic brain injury and was hospitalized. TFR opened a criminal case under article 317 of the criminal code “encroachment on life of law enforcement officer”.

Some of the protesters may also face criminal code article 318 (“violence against a representative of authorities”) and article 319 (“insult of representative of power”), said RBC a former employee of the Prosecutor General, lawyer Vadim Baghaturia. Namely, according to article 318 of the criminal code were charged to the participants of the “Bolotnaya” protests in 2011. “The Kremlin before the fork. Whether to radicalise the protests with harsh punishments the detainees, or to pretend that nothing had happened, and let them go”, — said RBC analyst Abbas Gallyamov.

Most likely, different elite groups will try to guess, what would you like to hear President Vladimir Putin, and the repressive projects of solving the problem will also be offered, says political analyst Mikhail Vinogradov. As an example he cited neighboring Belarus, where President Alexander Lukashenko has spent several years on a gradual alignment of relations with the West, but on Saturday the authorities in Minsk harshly suppressed protests.

The largest protest arrests over the last five years

At the Sunday rally in Moscow detained 600-800 people according to different sources — a record number in recent years.

· 6 may 2015 in Moscow was held a rally dedicated to the third anniversary of the events on Bolotnaya square. The organizers initially applied for a rally numbering 15 thousand people, but in the end they were denied. Just at the Swamp this day was detained 65 people.

· 30 December 2014, about 100 people were detained on Manezhnaya square in Central Moscow for violation of public order. The rally was inconsistent, despite house arrest, drew opposition leader Alexei Navalny, who was also arrested. The reason for the action was the sentence Navalny in the “case “Yves Rocher”.

· July 18, 2013 in Moscow, Saint-Petersburg and about 20 other cities have been “gatherings” against the arrest Alexei Navalny and Peter ofitserova, taken into custody on this day in Kirov. In Moscow, according to various data, gathered from 4 thousand to 20 thousand persons, 194 of them were arrested.

· December 15, 2012 in Moscow held an unauthorized rally on Lubyanka square near the Solovki stone, which, according to various estimates, took from 700 to 5 thousand people. Police detained about 60 people, including Alexei Navalny, Ilya Yashin and Ksenia Sobchak.

· May 6, 2012 in Moscow on Bolotnaya square was the “March of millions” devoted to the results of the presidential election. According to various estimates, the rally was attended by 8 thousand to 120 thousand. The action ended in clashes with police, the result of which was detained more than 400 people. Later more than 30 people were prosecuted. “Swamp thing” is known as the largest criminal case against participants of the protest movement in Russia in 2011-2013.

· December 5, 2011 action of the movement “Solidarity” has collected up to 5-7 thousand people (according to opposition) on Pure ponds in the capital. It was the biggest street event of the opposition for many years. The Central theme of the protests was the theme of falsifications of results of elections to the state Duma. In clashes with police more than 300 people detained by the police. The next day, the evening of 6 December on the triumphal area Edward Limonov and his supporters held an unauthorized rally. Of the several thousand participants were arrested , a record 569 people.

New Bulk status

Public opinion was recorded by a high degree of discontent of the people and their willingness to go out, and “with this knowledge the system will have to live now,” said RBC analyst Gallyamov.

The main outcome of Sunday’s stock, he believes the appearance of the Bulk of indisputable status as the leader of non-system opposition. According to the expert, at recent rallies, the Kremlin can answer their own street parties and return to the confrontation of the “Bolotnaya and Poklonnaya” of yesteryear.

Because on Sunday the rallies were a lot of young people, Vinogradov believes that Navalny was able to feel the mood of the younger generation. “Numeric is a success, pollenski is a success, but some problems remain, because the agenda is not very creative, public statements of the parties was not so bright as their emotions”, — said the expert summary of the capital stock.

In his opinion, the authorities have two questions: is it worth bringing to the polls the youth of 18-24 years and what to do with the anti-corruption agenda. “The confusion of the elites after the film about Medvedev showed that to ignore the subject is impossible, and something to offer — not accepted”, — said Vinogradov.

The shift in public mood can be so severe that the usual “tactical game” of the Kremlin with the agenda become irrelevant, warns Gallyamov. “We are witnessing the birth of a new political reality, and the Kremlin is powerless to change anything”, — concluded the analyst.