Russian police arrest thousands in second week of protests

Published on January 31, 2021 by

In Russia, over three thousand people have been arrested during a second week of nationwide protests in support of opposition figure Alexei Navalny. The greatest number of detentions so far has been reported in the capital Moscow, where many demonstrators gathered near the prison where Navalny is being held.
But protests have been taking place across many time zones this Sunday, from Siberia in the east, to St. Petersburg in the west. Navalny was arrested earlier this month on his return to Russia from Germany, where he spent five months recovering from an attempt to kill him with the nerve agent Novichok.
Week two of the opposition’s challenge to Vladimir Putin. Thousands have gathered again in the center of Saint Petersburg.
They’re again demonstrating for the release of opposition politician Alexei Navalny. Ahead of the protest, the authorities cordoned off many areas of the city center.
For many people here, this is the first time they have ever attended a protest. Until recently, they didn’t care about Alexey Navalny. But his arrest at a Moscow airport on return from Germany outraged many Russians. And many are also here to demonstrate against corruption, perceived police violence and a lack of democracy in Russia.
They showed up, even though organizers did not receive a permit for the protests from the authorities. In the run-up to the demonstrations, police across the country attempted to intimidate activists and journalists. Some were even arrested. Ljubov Sobol was one of them. She is the second most famous face of the Russian opposition after Navalny. Sobol is a member of Navalny’s NGO, the Anti-Corruption Foundation, which published a now famous video nearly two weeks ago.
In it, Navalny exposes a palace allegedly belonging to President Putin. According to the opposition politician, it was built with money from corruption. Navalny’s video already has more than 100 million hits. Even Russian state television has been forced to address his allegations.
They’re claiming the building doesn’t really belong to Putin. Instead, they say it’s a hotel that is still under construction. And that it’s owned by one of Russia’s richest businessmen, Arkadi Rottenberg. Like in the previous week, the police are cracking down on this demonstration. Once again, many people are being arrested here in Saint Petersburg and in other cities throughout Russia. It’s a display of force from a state determined to end these protests.

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