Supporters of detained Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny took to the streets in Russia on Wednesday evening to show their support for the well-known Kremlin critic. At least a thousand protesters would have been arrested.
The demonstrations gradually spread across the country from the east, where they were hours later. Police reported that about 6000 people in the capital Moscow participated in the illegal protest in St. Petersburg 4,500.
Smaller demonstrations with hundreds of participants have already been reported in cities in the Far East, such as Vladivostok and Irkutsk. Protesters are demanding the resignation of President Vladimir Putin. Observers spoke of large numbers of participants, but turnout was lagging behind the massive rallies that followed Navalny’s arrest in January.
The demonstrators defied the authorities, who had closed parts of the centers in several cities, such as Moscow and Yekaterinburg. According to the Russian OVD-Info, which tracks protests and arrests, more than a thousand people have been arrested in more than 50 cities.
Earlier on Wednesday, a spokesman and a lawyer for Navalny were arrested in Moscow. Norwegian Refugee CouncilReporter Eva Cocker reported Twitter She was arrested at the start of the demonstration in Yaroslavl, but was released after three hours.
Attention to Navalny’s plight
Navalny’s team has announced protests at more than 200 Russian sites to draw attention to the plight of Navalny, 44, who went on a hunger strike a few weeks ago.
Previous protests by Navalny’s supporters also resulted in thousands of arrests. The authorities’ crackdown has drawn international criticism. Especially in the western countries there is a great refusal to arrest and treat Navalny.