POLICE officers detained protesters who took to the streets in support of Putin opposition figure Alexey Navalny during unauthorised rallies in multiple Russian cities on Sunday.
At least 300 people took part in a rally in the Samara region, with 123 arrests reported by the Russian Ministry of Internal Affairs so far.
The official number of protesters and detainees in Krasnodar and Chelyabinsk has not yet been revealed. One of the rally participants offered to “audit Russia,” while another woman said that she decided to protest because “Navalny’s arrest was the last straw” for her.
Residents of Vladivostok, Yekaterinburg, Yakutsk, and other Russian cities also took to the streets to protest.
Rallies were announced by the organisers during last week’s protests in Moscow and other Russian cities.
The official representative of the Russian Ministry of Internal Affairs Irina Volk told the journalists that “the territorial bodies of the Russian Ministry of Internal Affairs are receiving information that the organisers of the unsanctioned public actions in the subjects of the Russian Federation scheduled for January 31 are calling on their supporters to act aggressively towards the law enforcement officials, who ensure public order.
The aim of the provocateurs is to initiate clashes of rally members with the representatives of law enforcement agencies and to discredit the authorities.”
Earlier the General Prosecutor’s Office informed that the actions of the members of the unsanctioned rally may be qualified under the article of the Russian Criminal Code on mass riots and demanded to restrict access to the web sites and social media profiles with calls to participate in rallies.
The warnings have been sent to such internet companies as Facebook, Twitter, Google, Mail.ru Group, and TikTok. Moscow along with some other Russian cities also imposed a ban on public gatherings due to coronavirus pandemic.
According to the Russian Ministry of Internal Affairs, a restriction on pedestrian movement in the centre of Moscow until the special order from police was introduced on Sunday due to the online spread of information about illegal gathering.
The Tverskoy Regional Court put five associates of Alexei Navalny under a two-month house arrest on Friday, January 29.
A criminal case was initiated under Article 236 of the Criminal Code of the Russian Federation in connection with the violation of sanitary standards at the rally of Navalny’s supporters which had been held on January 23.
The opposition figure is currently under arrest until February,15 in Matrosskaya Tishina pre-trial detention centre by the verdict of Khimki court.
The Moscow Regional Court rejected the complaint of the Anti-Corruption Foundation leader’s lawyers against the extension of the arrest to 30 days on Thursday, January 28.
Navalny himself commented on the court’s decision saying: “Everything was clear to me before the beginning of the court session.”