Home Business More than 1,000 arrested at pro-Navalny demonstrations

More than 1,000 arrested at pro-Navalny demonstrations

Law enforcement officers detain a participant in an unauthorized rally held by supporters of Russian opposition activist Alexei Navalny in Sennaya Square.

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More than 1,000 people have been arrested in Russia after attending unauthorized protests in support of the jailed Putin critic Alexei Navalny.

Demonstrations took place across Russia on Wednesday with rallies in the major cities of Moscow and St Petersburg attracting the highest number of attendees, despite a current ban on protests in Russia.

Supporters of opposition activist Navalny take part in an unsanctioned rally in support of jailed opposition leader Alexey Navalny, in Moscow, Russia on April 21, 2021.

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OVD-Info, an independent NGO that monitors protests in Russia, said on Twitter the protests had taken place in more than 90 cities across Russia and had led to more than 1,600 arrests, although the number is hard to verify. The monitoring group also said there were reports that police had used tear gas and stun guns on protesters, but these are unverified.

Activists shout slogan during an unsanctioned protest rally in support of jailed opposition leader Alexey Navalny at Manezhnaya Square in front of Moscow’s Kremlin on April 21, 2021 in Moscow, Russia.

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Figures on the number of people that attended protests differ wildly. Navalny’s team have claimed 60,000 people attended the protest in Moscow, while Open Media estimated 25,000 were on Moscow’s central Tverskaya street alone, according to the Moscow Times. Russia’s Interior Ministry played down the figures, however, estimating a turnout of around 6,000 in Moscow and 4,500 in St. Petersburg, with hundreds of demonstrators at other locations across Russia, according to its Facebook page.

Demonstrations in support of Navalny were called by his team as the opposition leader was moved to a prison hospital earlier this week after becoming ill while carrying out a hunger strike in prison.

Supporters of opposition activist Navalny take part in an unsanctioned rally in Tverskaya Street.

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Law enforcement officers detain a participant in an unauthorized rally held by supporters of Russian opposition activist Alexei Navalny in St Petersburg.

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There were reports of several arrests of members of Navalny’s team ahead of the unsanctioned rallies with Lyubov Sobol, who features regularly on Navalny’s popular YouTube channel, and Kira Yarmysh, his spokeswoman, both detained in Moscow, their lawyers said, according to Reuters.

The U.S. administration has warned the Russian government to not let Navalny die in custody, adding that there will be “consequences.”

Russian President Vladimir Putin made no mention of Navalny in his “state of the union” address on Wednesday, as protests took place. However, he warned the West against any provocations of Russia and crossing its “red lines.”

Russian riot police officers block a street during a rally in support of jailed Kremlin critic Alexei Navalny, in central Saint-Petersburg on April 21, 2021.

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Last summer, Navalny was medically evacuated to Germany from a Russian hospital after he was poisoned by a chemical nerve agent.

The German government said toxicology reports showed “unequivocal evidence” that Navalny was exposed to a nerve agent in the Novichok family, which was developed by the Soviet Union. Toxicology tests conducted in France and Sweden also came to the same conclusion.

Navalny has accused Putin of ordering the poison attack, although Putin and the Kremlin have repeatedly denied having a role in the poisoning.

Russian police officers stand guard around the Kremlin Palace and Red Square on April 21, 2021.

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