Behind the Kremlin’s response to Navalny rallies


MOSCOW (AP) – Fueled by nationwide protests by jailed opposition leader Alexey Navalny, Russian officials are moving fast to stop any new ones – from putting legal pressure on their allies to campaigning to discredit the demonstrations By.

On January 23, unprecedented large-scale rallies were held across Russia. The demand to release Navalny from prison resulted in thousands of arrests and dozens of criminal investigations were opened. His colleagues and top aides have been jailed, Some face criminal charges that serve jail terms.

President Vladimir Putin compared the organizers of the protests to “terrorists”, and lawmakers alleged that Navalny is a Western rascal and deceived his country to benefit Russia’s opponents.

Navalni’s team admits the pressure is unprecedented, but says it will not give in and is calling for another performance on Sunday.

A look at the unrest and Kremlin strategy:

What LED for Safety?

Navalny, a fierce critic of Putin, returned to Russia on January 17 after five months in Germany, where he was recovering from poisoning with a nerve agent that he blames on the Kremlin and Russian officials deny.

44-year-old Navalny was arrested at the airport upon arrival and jailed for 30 days, with a court hearing whether he was sent to jail for alleged probation violations of previous convictions – which he claims That was inspired by politics. A court on Thursday refused to release Navalni, dismissing his appeal for arrest.

Navalani is famous for his video investigation of official corruption. After his arrest, his team released a report on his YouTube channel about a $ 1.3 billion seaside complex allegedly built for Putin, which also featured lavish Italian furnishings and expensive toilet brushes. It has been viewed more than 100 million times. The Kremlin and even Putin – who never mentioned Navalny by name – denied that it was made for him.

Navalny’s team staged massive protests demanding his release on 23 January and tens of thousands of people took to the streets in more than 100 Russian cities, the largest and most widely enraged towards the Kremlin in years. Despite their lack, rallies were held, something that had previously been a major vicissitudes due to the threat of arrest.

What was the result by AUTHORITIES?

A few days before the protests, scores of Navalny’s colleagues were detained. The warning that his team was encouraging minors to take to the streets began to spread among parents. Navalni’s team dismissed the allegations.

In the protests, more than 4,000 people were detained, according to OVD-Info, a human rights group that monitors political arrests. It said that it was the highest in its nine-year history of record keeping in the Putin era. In some cities, rallies were aggressively dispersed, and human rights advocates said there were instances of violence. Around 20 criminal investigations were opened on a wide range of charges.

On Wednesday, Moscow police raided the apartments and offices of Navalnyi allies and opposition figures, including their own apartments. The discovery was made during protests in connection with a case of alleged violation of coronovirus regulations, a charge that carries imprisonment of up to two years.

Five people, including Navalny’s brother Oleg and top aide Kubov Sobol, have been detained for 48 hours in the case.

Russia’s investigative committee also accused naval strategist Leonid Volkov of encouraging minors to participate in unauthorized protests. Volkov, who left Russia two years ago, faces a possible prison term if he returns. The case against him was opened when he wrote a Facebook post urging minors not to protest.

“We have not faced such pressure before,” Ivan Zadanov, head of Navalny’s Foundation for Fighting Corruption, told AP.

What about other options?

For years, Russia’s opposition has consisted of fragmented groups that often disagree with each other, although there have been incidents of unity in recent years: in 2019, in a campaign to allow opposition candidates to run for Moscow city council More than a dozen leaders rallied together. And mass protests every weekend for several weeks.

Navalny’s case garnered unanimous support from various opposition politicians, even those who generally disagreed with him. He attended the January 23 rally, demanded the release of a statement and shared the video about “Putin’s Palace” on social media.

Yuliya Galliamina, a Moscow politician who rose to prominence in the 2019 campaign, pressures on those who are opposed to the sitting government, of course, affect everyone, and we need to defend everyone. He himself faced jail for the protests, told The Associated Press.

Some activists have caught up in the crossfire. The Moscow police detained a member of the civil society movement, raided her house and another member during a Navalni investigation. The Galliamina spokesperson’s house was also raided.

KREMLIN views processes as one?

Authorities dismissed last week’s protest as small. Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said the number of rallies turned out to be “negligible numbers” of people compared to the number of people who voted for Putin.

At the same time, state-controlled TV, which usually ignores opposition protests, devotes long segments to rallies, focusing on incidents of violence by protesters and emphasizing police restraint.

Navalny’s team said on messaging app Telegram on Wednesday that the raids conducted this week are a sign of Putin’s “mad fear” of mass rallies.

Analysts believe the government takes the protests very seriously. Tatyana Stanovaiya, the founder of political think-tank R.Politik, says the leadership understands to some extent that there are reasons for public frustration since an unpopular 2018 pension reform in which the retirement age was raised. But the Kremlin also assumes unrest that Navalny is causing a nuisance and is being supported by foreign opponents.

“On the one hand, there is public discouragement; on the other hand, there is … opposition that is perceived as a tool of foreign intelligence agencies in the Kremlin. This combination can further harden the line of officers,” Stanovya told AP. “I think we’re already seeing it.”

What will happen next?

Both analysts and Navalni colleagues believe that the rift will continue and possibly the deadlock between politicians and officials.

“I have been working with Navalny for 10 years, and this suppression machine has never slowed down against us from year to year – it has only gained momentum,” Sobol told reporters the day before his arrest.

Other Naval partners remain unaffected. “We hope that this will make people angry even ahead of the rallies on January 31. Even more people will turn up,” said Zedanov.

Abbas Galmov, a speechwriter for the September parliamentary election, a political analyst and former Kremlin, said on Facebook that it is important for officials to keep the situation under control.

The election will determine who controls the state Duma in 2024, when Putin’s current term ends and he can re-elect for six years in office, thanks to constitutional reforms last year.

“Amid worsening living conditions and increasing demand for changes, one is already inclined to deny his support to the authorities. Galamov said that to add insult to injury, demonstrators show dissatisfaction that they are not alone. “The authorities may face electoral catastrophe due to intense protests. To avoid this, any means is good. “

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