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Monday, June 12, 2017

Protests in the Motherland

by digby

The last time protests like this broke out, President Vladimir Putin blamed Hillary Clinton and vowed revenge, which he seems to have followed through with. Today's were bigger:
Opposition leader Alexei Navanly was among hundreds detained in Russia Monday, as protests raged across the country in a sea of rallies that coincided with Russia Day.

Thousands turned out to voice dissatisfaction with the government on Monday, the latest in a series of demonstrations to engulf Russia this year. More than 100 cities held rallies, including the major hubs of Moscow and St. Petersburg, where crowds were especially massive. Independent political persecution monitor OVD Info said that at least 750 people were detained in the protests in Moscow, with an additional 900 detained in St. Petersburg.

While the protests have previously been marketed more as “anti-corruption” demonstrations rather than an indictment of Russia’s government, Monday’s turnout seemed to indicate that protesters have become bolder and more willing to speak out. Video footage of rallies showed Russians calling for a “Russia without Putin” and yelling “Putin is a thief!”, while also throwing in a “Happy Russia Day!” in honor of the ongoing national holiday.

Navalny, who was detained ahead of the protests while at his house, had urged Russians to participate in anti-corruption demonstrations. Originally, the protest in Moscow was set to be held at Sakharov Prospekt, but at the last minute, Navalny announced that the location had been changed, claiming that authorities had put pressure on local vendors to deny his team access to stage equipment.

A fierce critic of Putin, as well as of Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev, the 41-year-old activist and presidential candidate has become the face of Russia’s opposition movement, accusing the government of corruption and impropriety. In March, Navalny oversaw massive protests across Russia, leading to his brief arrest, reportedly for disobeying a police officer. The charge was only the latest against Navalny, who has also been accused of embezzlement — a charge he says is a lie to keep him out of office, something the European Court of Human Rights has seconded.

Navalny’s wife wrote on Twitter half an hour before the scheduled protests: “Hello. This is Yulia Navalnaya … Alexei has been detained in the stairwell.”

Electricity in Navalny’s office was also reportedly shut off, according to Navalnaya’s spokesperson. State news agency TASS confirmed Nalvany’s arrest on Monday, but later claimed that the protests were in fact festive Russia Day celebrations.

The arrest did little to hamper protests, some of the biggest the country has seen in years. Many of those present were young people, according to reports. Some came with parents and other family members who wanted them to experience a taste of Russian reality, as well as dissent.

“We are concerned for our children’s future,” Konstantin Kozlov, a lawyer who brought his teenage children to a rally told Financial Times. “We want them to see for themselves what they won’t see on TV.”

Max Seddon, a Moscow correspondent for Financial Times, tweeted several photos of teenage girls who participated in the protest, while noting that he was surprised at the youthful turnout. “Seeing a lot of parents accompanying their teenage children to this protest,” he wrote. “A first in Russia, for me at least.”
A Russian court on Tuesday sentenced Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny to 30 days in prison for repeatedly violating the law on organizing public meetings, a Reuters journalist reported.

Navalny was earlier detained on his way to an anti-Kremlin protest in central Moscow.

I don't know how people will find a way to blame Clinton for this but I'm sure they'll find a way.