This Sunday, thousands of people marched across the streets in Russia while chanting anti-Putin slogans and demanding the release of the imprisoned leader of opposition Alexei Navalny.
The protest has been a continuation of the public demonstrations that have gripped the nation. Thousands were arrested and detained by the authorities on Sunday. According to some sources, more than 5,000 people across the country were detained by the police on Sunday.
Yulia, the spouse of Navalny, was also arrested and later released. According to Amnesty International, the number of protestors that were arrested by the authorities in Moscow brought the detention centers in the cities to run out of space.
The gigantic protests on Sunday occurred despite the best efforts of the authorities in the country to reduce the demonstrations after scores of people turned up to protest last weekend to show discontent against the administration. These protests have been the largest and the most widespread in the country over the last decade.
The authorities threatened the public with imprisonment and sent out warnings on social media before the Sunday rallies. They had also demanded the social media block to stop all communications.
But despite the perils and the enormous police cordons, the protests engulfed the nation across its length and breadth.
In Moscow, the police were randomly arresting people and constraining them in police buses. But the demonstrators continued to march across the city, often chanting “Putin thief” and “Putin resign”. Despite the heavy police presence, people continued to march, oftentimes crossing the many police cordons. The police officers were able to break up the protestors into small groups by tasering them, beating them with batons, and eventually detaining them.
Thousands of people also marched in solidarity at St. Petersburg, with occasional scuffles between the protestors and the police as attempting arrests. More than 1000 people were arrested. Other massive rallies were held at Yekaterinburg located in the Urals region and at Krasnoyarsk and Novosibirsk situated in eastern Siberia.
The protests had erupted across Russia after a video detailing an ultra-luxurious estate built for Putin near the Black Sea was posted by Navalny. The chants by the protestors allude to that estate holding. The video has more than 100 million views to date. Putin has denied owning the estate.
After the Sunday protests, Navalny’s team has called for another protest on Tuesday. This is the day when he is set to appear in court, the result of which could be years in jail.
Navalny is a well-known critic of President Putin. Navalny was arrested on January 17 after returning from Germany, where he was receiving treatment for poisoning from a nerve agent. He has blamed the Kremlin for the poising, which the government had vehemently denied.
Moscow will be undergoing another severe lockdown in anticipation of the next protest. Stores and restaurants have been prohibited from opening, bus traffic has been significantly reduced, and most subway stations have been closed.