Moscow, April 22
Police rounded up greater than 1,700 protesters on Wednesday as Russians in dozens of cities took half in rallies organised by allies of hunger-striking Kremlin critic Alexei Navalny over his failing well being in jail.
His spokeswoman was jailed for 10 days, and one other shut ally detained, on the identical day that President Vladimir Putin delivered a state-of-the-nation speech warning the West to not cross Russia’s “red lines” and pointedly made no point out of Navalny.
“This is one of the last gasps of a free Russia, as many are saying. We came out for Alexei … against a war in Ukraine and the wild propaganda,” stated Marina, a pupil at the Moscow protest.
OVD-Info, a bunch that screens protests and detentions, stated 1,782 individuals had been arrested, together with 804 in St. Petersburg and 119 within the Urals metropolis of Ufa.
Protesters in central Moscow chanted, “Freedom to Navalny!” and “Let the doctors in!”. Navalny’s spouse Yulia joined the rally within the capital, the place demonstrators chanted her title.
The opposition had hoped the rallies can be the most important in trendy Russian historical past, and introduced them as an try to avoid wasting Navalny’s life by persuading the authorities to permit his personal docs to deal with him.
But turnout seemed smaller than throughout protests earlier this 12 months earlier than Navalny was jailed for 2-1/2 years for parole violations associated to what he stated have been politically motivated costs of embezzlement.
Police stated 6,000 individuals protested illegally in Moscow, whereas Navalny’s YouTube channel stated turnout within the capital was as much as 10 occasions increased. Alexey Venediktov, a veteran journalist and head of the Ekho Moskvy radio station, stated 10,000-15,000 individuals had rallied in Moscow and seven,000-9,000 in St Petersburg.
The 44-year-old Navalny, who final 12 months survived a nerve agent assault that Russian authorities denied finishing up, is skinny and weak after ravenous himself for three weeks, and his allies say he dangers kidney failure or cardiac arrest. The United States has warned Russia it’s going to face “consequences” if he dies.
The state human rights commissioner, Tatyana Moskalkova, stated 4 docs from exterior the federal jail company had visited Navalny on Tuesday and located no critical well being issues.
Russia says he has been handled as would another prisoner.
The confrontation over Navalny’s destiny is a flashpoint in Moscow’s dire relations with the West, already aggravated by financial sanctions, diplomatic expulsions and a Russian army buildup close to Ukraine.
U.N. human rights consultants urged Moscow to let Navalny be medically evaluated overseas. They stated they believed his life was at risk as he was being held in “conditions that could amount to torture”.
CALL TO ‘FIGHT THIS DARKNESS’
Navalny’s spokeswoman, Kira Yarmysh, and an ally, Lyubov Sobol, have been detained close to their Moscow houses hours earlier than the rally within the capital. European Council President Charles Michel, who chairs European Union summits, referred to as their arrests “deplorable”.
Yarmysh was later jailed for 10 days at a listening to for inciting individuals to protest. Sobol was launched forward of a listening to on Thursday.
Navalny aide Ruslan Shaveddinov tweeted: “This is repression. This cannot be accepted. We need to fight this darkness.”
Dozens of police vans have been deployed to the centre of Moscow.
The sq. the place activists had hoped to collect was cordoned off with steel limitations, as was Red Square.
Up to about 300 individuals protested in Vladivostok, some toting banners saying “Freedom for political prisoners” and “No war, repressions and torture!”
“Everyone realises the current authorities have nothing new to propose for the country. We need a new generation of politicians. I see Navalny as one of them,” stated Ilya, a 19-year-old pupil within the far jap metropolis of Vladivostok.
Elsewhere, riot police used drive to make arrests. In Magadan, in Russia’s far east, officers pressured a person to the bottom and pinned again his arms.
Navalny launched his starvation strike over what he stated was the refusal of the jail holding him to supply him with correct remedy for leg and again ache. The state jail service has stated his situation is passable.
Navalny’s activist community faces mounting stress. State prosecutors in Moscow started authorized strikes final week to ban his teams as extremist organisations.
US Senator Bob Menendez, chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, urged the Russian authorities to supply Navalny with medical care and referred to as for sanctions.
“This is barbarism playing out in real time, and we cannot be silent,” he stated. Reuters