In Russia, more than a thousand people were arrested on Wednesday during demonstrations in support of the Kremlin’s opponent, Alexei Navalny, who is being held in a concentration camp. The human rights portal ovdinfo.org recorded more than 1,000 arrests in more than 80 cities in the early evening, including more than 300 in Saint Petersburg alone. Navalny has been on a hunger strike for three weeks, receiving treatment from an independent doctor.
There were sporadic reports of police violence against peaceful protesters. Despite the authorities’ threats, people shouted in the face of tens of thousands, “Freedom to Navalny!” He called for medical help for the 44-year-old patient. He complains of back pain and paralysis of the limbs. According to the Russian prison system, Navalny is treated in a concentration camp infirmary. The authorities see no danger to his life.
Navalny’s companion was arrested
Navalny’s wife, brother Oleg, and mother, Julia, were also involved in illegal business in Moscow. Close associates of Navalny, Lyubov Sobol and spokeswoman Kira Garmisch, were arrested hours before the protests. She said that Garmisch was held in a holding cell for ten days. The reason for the arrests was not clear at first.
The authorities had warned against participating in the protests. Independent monitors said tens of thousands of people stood in the center of the Russian capital in support of Navalny. Cars passed in front of the demonstrators, blowing their horns in support. Several protesters said they overcame their fear and wanted to defend Navalny. Police said there were 6,000 participants.
As in many cities in the country, people called chants demanding the resignation of Russian President Vladimir Putin. They shouted “Putin – work!” And “Putin, Ochudi!” (In Germany: Putin, the thief of “Putin, go away!”) They accuse the Kremlin head of cracking down on dissidents and corruption and shouting “Freehit!” Freedom!”.
Protests began in the largest country by area, beginning in the Far East on the Pacific coast. Thousands of people took to the streets in Siberia. In St. Petersburg, the birthplace of the Kremlin chief, many people shouted, “Putin is a killer!” Freedom for political prisoners! And “Doctor to Navalny!” Internet TV station Doschd also showed. According to what was reported by the channel, men in military uniform also used stun guns against peaceful demonstrators.
Navalny blames Putin for his assassination attempt last August when he was poisoned with the chemical warfare agent Novichok in Siberia. The president rejects these allegations. The Russian leadership also refuses to investigate the internationally condemned crime. Navalny has repeatedly accused Putin of wanting to kill him in the concentration camp – out of revenge because the attack had failed.
The Kremlin has rejected international criticism of Navalny’s dealings, describing it as inappropriate interference in Russia’s internal affairs. The presidential administration also said it was not responsible for the opposition’s medical treatment and referred to the penal system, which classified Navalny’s case as “satisfactory”.
The United Nations calls for Nawalni to be treated abroad
But in Geneva, experts from the United Nations Human Rights Council demanded that Navalny be transferred abroad for treatment in light of the “grave danger” to his health. They indicated that the politician was treated in Germany after the assassination attempt.
The security forces, at least in Moscow, initially acted somewhat more cautiously than they had during the winter protests, as a German news agency correspondent immediately reported. Many streets were fortified with barriers in the center. Recently there have been thousands of arrests and mass police violence against Navalny’s supporters. There were also solidarity protests in several cities abroad.
At the beginning of the year, thousands of Navalny’s supporters were arrested across Russia during similar protests. The hard-line approach of the Russian authorities at that time was subjected to heavy criticism at the international level. Leonid Volkov, who is close to Navalny, said: “As usual, they think that there will be no protest if they dismiss the“ leaders. ”“ This is of course a mistake. ”Another Navalny supporter tweeted:“ At the moment, potential protesters are being arrested all over Russia. This is a funnel. It cannot be accepted. We have to fight this darkness. “
Green condemned the events
The Greens’ spokeswoman for foreign policy and human rights, Ewa Ernst Dzidzic, condemned the events. “The fact that the Kremlin wants to silence members of the opposition with the help of an obedient judiciary is not enough, but it also wants to silence those who exercise their civil rights and publicly express their dissatisfaction with this blatant injustice,” said Ernst Dzidzic in a statement. Radio: “Anyone who questions the legitimacy of President Putin will be harmed by the ruthlessness of the state apparatus. But with iron bars and batons, the long-term ruler will not be able to silence social dissonance in the long run.” (Apa, dpa, Reuters)
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