Russia Makes Mass Arrests in Series of Navalny Protests

Opposition figure's wife is taken into custody
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Jan 23, 2021 3:00 PM CST
Mass Arrests Meet Navalny Protests
People protest the jailing of Alexei Navalny on Saturday in Moscow.   (AP Photo/Alexander Zemlianichenko)

Protests erupted in dozens of cities across Russia on Saturday to demand the release of opposition leader Alexei Navalny, the Kremlin's most prominent foe. Police arrested more than 2,100 people, some of whom took to the streets in temperatures as low as minus-58 Fahrenheit, the AP reports. In Moscow, thousands of demonstrators filled Pushkin Square in the city center, where clashes with police broke out and demonstrators were roughly dragged off by helmeted riot officers to police buses and detention trucks, some beaten with batons. Navalny's wife, Yulia, was among those arrested. Police eventually pushed demonstrators out of the square. Thousands then regrouped along a wide boulevard about a half-mile away, many of them throwing snowballs at the police before dispersing.

The protests stretched across Russia's vast territory, from the island city of Yuzhno-Sakhalinsk north of Japan and the eastern Siberian city of Yakutsk to Russia's more populous European cities. The range demonstrated how Navalny and his anti-corruption campaign have built a network of support despite government repression and being routinely ignored by state media. "The situation is getting worse and worse, it's total lawlessness," said a protester in Moscow. "And if we stay silent, it will go on forever." The OVD-Info group that monitors political arrests said at least 795 people were detained in Moscow and more than 300 at another demonstration in St. Petersburg. Overall, it said 2,131 people had been arrested in some 90 cities. Undeterred, Navalny's supporters called for protests again next weekend. (Police arrested Navalny as he returned to the country.)

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