Protests in support of Navalni begin in Russia's Far East

Protests in support of Navalni begin in Russia’s Far East

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Moscow, Jan 2- The protests in support of the Russian opposition leader, Alexei Navalni, called throughout Russia by his followers, have already begun this Saturday in several cities of the Russian Far East, with the participation of hundreds of people.

“There is a big rally in Ulan-Ude! At the moment the participation in the protests exceeds all expectations. There are a lot of people!” Navalni’s team said on their Telegram channel, where they showed the video of a crowd of hundreds of people crying out “Freedom!” in a square.
The demonstrations in 94 Russian cities were called to demand the freedom of the opponent, who was arrested last Sunday upon arrival in Moscow after recovering in Germany from the poisoning he suffered last August with a toxic agent belonging to the Novichok family.
Navalni, who could be sentenced to 3.5 years in prison for having allegedly breached the conditions of a suspended sentence handed down in 2014, assures that the true intentions of the Russian government are to silence him.
In the city of Irkutsk, southwest of Baikal, hundreds of opposition supporters marched amid shouts of “Putin, thief!” and “We are the power!”
As seen in a video released by the Navalni team, the protesters came to the local administration with “Freedom” banners and chanted “Go!” to Russian President Vladimir Putin.
In the city of Vladivostok in the Russian region of Primorye, half a thousand protesters took to the streets, according to local authorities, cited by Interfax, against which riot forces were launched.
Videos posted by protesters on Twitter show groups of policemen with batons and shields attacking the crowd, to surround and apprehend protesters who shout “Freedom!”
As reported today by OVD-info, dedicated to monitoring arrests, at least 23 people were detained during the protests in this city.
In Khabarovsk, another of the first cities to join the marches, some 300 protesters gathered in the central Lenin Square, the local information portal DVHAB.ru said, adding that there were more police than supporters of the opposition.
The police cordoned off the square but the protesters made a circle and holding hands began to circle around the law enforcement officers, it is observed in a video released by the Navalni team.
When the protesters decided to band together to march through the city, the anti-riot forces detained a dozen of them.
The Russian authorities repeatedly warned that the demonstrations in support of the leader of the Russian extra-parliamentary opposition were not authorized, and made calls not to “be provoked” and not participate in these, while warning that the necessary measures would be taken against “lawbreakers”.
In total, according to OVD-info, the number of detainees in twenty cities amounts to 125.
As the rest of the Russian cities prepare to join the protests, the Púshkinskaya Square in central Moscow, a meeting place for the protesters, was surrounded by the City Council for a reform in which the paving stones will supposedly change, according to reported the Meduza portal.
More than 5,600 people responded positively to the call for the Moscow demonstration published on Facebook by the Navalni team and another 10,200 users of the social network were interested in this event.

Ben Oakley
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