January 23, 2021 7:34:30 pm
Yulia Navalnaya announced she had been detained by police in an Instagram post on Saturday. She was taking part in a Moscow rally, demanding the release of her husband, Kremlin critic Alexei Navalny.
Around 90 rallies are taking place across the country. At least 1,090 people, including a politician, have been detained, according to the OVD-Info protest monitor.
Yulia Navalnaya posted a picture of herself inside a police van on her Instagram account, complaining that the lack of light made for a bad photograph.
Police called the rallies illegal and said that they would be “immediately suppressed.”
Navalny was arrested on his return to Russia from Germany on January 17, following a near-fatal poisoning with a nerve agent.
He was handed a 30-day jail term for violating the terms of a suspended sentence he was given in 2014 on fraud charges.
The 44-year-old says the charges are politically motivated.
The US, the European Union, France and Canada have urged his release. The EU has also imposed sanctions on Russia over Navalny’s arrest.
What is happening at the marches
Thousands of people gathered in central Moscow to march from central Pushkin Square to the Kremlin. The Interior Ministry estimated 4,000 people attended. News agency Reuters estimated the figure was likely 40,000.
“Mass arrests have already started on Moscow’s Pushkin Square — even before the official beginning of a protest demanding Navalny be let out of prison. Police seem to be grabbing people on the square at random. Dozens of arrests across the country at other protests already,” reported DW’s Russia correspondent Emily Sherwin.
Prominent activist Lyubov Sobol was detained by police at the protest, broadcaster TV Rain reported.
She is a lawyer for Navalny’s Anti-Corruption Foundation. She was also detained on Thursday along with Navalny’s spokeswoman Kira Yarmysh for calling on people to join the protests.
Politician Lev Shlosberg tweeted that he had been detained. He holds a seat on the Pskov Regional Assembly, in northwestern Russia.
The day of protests kicked off in cities in Russia’s far east which is several time zones ahead of Moscow.
Navalny’s headquarters in Khabarovsk said on Twitter that several dozen protesters were rounded up by authorities in the city shortly after the demonstrations began. Video footage showed protesters braving freezing temperatures and chanting “Shame!” and “Bandits!”
The protests in Khabarovsk are also focused on the arrest of the city’s popular former governor, Sergei Furgal.
In Vladivostok, video footage showed riot police chasing a group of protesters down the street.
Some braved temperatures as low as -50 degrees Celsius (-58 degrees Fahrenheit) in Siberian Yakutia to protest.
In several Russian cities, there were mobile phone and internet network outages, the monitoring site downdetector.ru showed.
Twitter users in Russia also reported problems accessing the microblogging platform.
Communication problems were reported by users in the following cities: Moscow, St. Petersburg, Tyumen, Chelyabinsk, Yekaterinburg, Voronezh, Krasnodar, Rostov-on-Don and Saratov, the Russian independent online magazine Spektr.Press reported.
The authorities sometimes interfere with mobile communication networks to make it harder for protesters to communicate among themselves and share video footage online.
Russia cracks down on organizers, social media Ahead of the protests, Russia’s media watchdog Roskomnadzor accused platforms of hosting content encouraging and organizing the protests.
It threatened fines if they did not remove content encouraging minors to participate in the demonstrations.
By Friday evening, the watchdog said TikTok had deleted 38% of the posts that authorities deemed illegal, while YouTube had deleted 50% of posts flagged by Russian regulators.
Authorities also said they had launched a criminal investigation against Navalny’s supporters for urging minors to attend illegal rallies on social networks.
The Investigative Committee for the Novosibirsk Region in central-southern Russia opened a criminal case on incitement to mass riots, Russian independent media outlet MediaZona reported on Friday.
They reportedly detained a 20-year-old resident for his role in organizing protests.
Navalny’s associates also urged Russians to take to the streets despite official pressure, promising financial help to protesters given fines.
In a push to galvanize support, Navalny’s team also released a video about an opulent palace on the Black Sea they alleged belonged to Russian President Vladimir Putin — something the Kremlin denied. The clip had been viewed more than 60 million times as of late Friday.
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