23/1/2021–|Last updated: 1/23/202110:40 AM (Makkah)
Supporters of imprisoned Russian dissident Alexei Navalny were preparing to demonstrate today, Saturday, across the country, while the police pre-empted possible protests by arresting dozens of his supporters in Russia’s Far East.
Supporters of Navalny, who was arrested last Sunday upon his arrival in Moscow after a long medical trip in Germany, called for demonstrations in 65 cities, including the capital.
The director of the island’s office in Moscow, Zaur Schaug, stated that large numbers of demonstrators came out today in a number of cities in the Russian Far East, noting that cities such as Khabarovsk and Vladisvostok, which have a time difference of 10 hours, were not known for their political activity.
He said that the police arrested dozens of demonstrators in the city of Khabarovsk who were participating in the protests.
He said that there are preparations in 70 Russian cities to confront the upcoming demonstrations, noting that what made matters worse for the Russian authorities is the investigative film published by Navalny’s supporters on YouTube, which accuses President Vladimir Putin and his close associates of corruption.
In the capital, Moscow, protesters are supposed to gather in Pushkin Square, starting at 2 pm local time (11:00 GMT), and in previous protests, Navalny was able to rally thousands in the capital and other cities.
Alexei Navalny’s wife, Yulia Navalnaya, announced that she intends to demonstrate in Moscow for her husband, who “never gives up”.
For his part, the city’s mayor, Sergey Sobyanin, denounced what he described as unacceptable demonstrations at the height of the Corona epidemic, as the Russian capital counts thousands of cases of the virus daily.
Prior to the upcoming protests, the police arrested the “coordinators of the anti-corruption center” headed by Navalny, on charges of inciting unauthorized demonstrations under the pretext that this constituted a “threat to public order.”
Yesterday, the Russian police threatened to suppress any unauthorized protests, and most universities, institutes and students vowed to dismiss them if they participated in the demonstrations.
The authorities have also threatened some local social media platforms with heavy financial penalties if they promote these protests.
The call for protests across Russia comes less than a week after Navalny was arrested and imprisoned for 30 days on charges of violating the terms of a previous court ruling against him.
But the Russian opposition accused the authorities of fabricating cases against him, and he accused President Vladimir Putin of having ordered the poisoning of the Soviet-based “Novochik” gas last summer, which necessitated his transfer to Germany for treatment.
In the midst of the new confrontation with the Kremlin, Navalny’s supporters released immediately after his arrest a two-hour video investigation containing what they said were details of the corruption of Putin and those close to him.
A film published on YouTube and watched by more than 60 million people included information about a luxurious palace that the investigators say belongs to Putin in the resort of Gelendzhik on the Black Sea in southern Russia, and confirm that its cost amounted to $ 1.3 billion, which the Kremlin denied.
The Russian president discussed in a phone call with the President of the European Council Charles Michel the circumstances of the situation regarding the arrest of the Russian opposition Alexei Navalny, and the Kremlin said that the call took place at the request of Michel.
The Kremlin had rejected calls from the United States and its Western allies for Navalny’s release.