1,770 were arrested Wednesday in demonstrations in support of hunger-striking opposition politician Alexei Navalny, according to OVD-info.
While very few have been arrested in the capital, Moscow, as many as 805 people have been arrested by police in the second largest city, Saint Petersburg, according to the Watch Group’s overview. According to the TV channel Duzjed On Friday, riot police stormed the rally and drove hundreds of protesters with trucks.
The demonstrators demanded the release of Navalny, who has been on hunger strike for three weeks. The Kremlin critic has been taken to the prison hospital, but his supporters believe he should be admitted to a regular hospital and examined by independent doctors.
There were demonstrations in Moscow and St. Petersburg in the afternoon, Norwegian time, after people gathered in other time zones in Russia, such as the “Far East”, Siberia and the Urals earlier.
According to police, 6,000 protesters gathered in Moscow. The demonstration organizers believed the number was two or three times the number, but independent journalists reported that it may have been around 9,000.
805 protesters have been arrested in St. Petersburg and 29 in Moscow, according to OVD Info. In Ufa, near the Ural Mountains, as many as 119 protesters were arrested.
A battle for the future
In St. Petersburg, the country’s second largest city, police estimated 4,500 protesters had gathered. The organizers here also believe that there is more.
“This is a battle for the future, we have nothing here,” Andrei Zamyatin, 51, told AFP in central Moscow.
He says Navalny is trying to change the system, which is why he is being punished.
In the city of Vladimir, where Navalny was imprisoned, 250 demonstrators demonstrated, according to an AFP correspondent immediately.
Navalny officials released videos of protesters gathering in city centers chanting slogans such as “Putin is a killer” and “Down with the Tsar!” They allege that Navalny was imprisoned by the Russian authorities for political reasons.
Life is in danger
The 44-year-old regime critic barely survived an attack with the neurotoxin Novitzjok in August of last year. In February, he was imprisoned over an old case, and on March 31, he began a hunger strike to demand better treatment for his health problems.
A group of human rights experts asked the United Nations on Wednesday to evacuate him immediately for treatment abroad. In a statement, the experts, who declared their independence from the United Nations, said they believed he was being treated in extremely harsh conditions and being denied treatment.
Moreover, they are said to believe that his life is seriously threatened.
President Vladimir Putin did not, as might be expected, mention Alexei Navalny V. His speech on “The State of the Kingdom” on Wednesday.