News of the Day: 23 January 2021

Amnesty International: Responding to the mass arrests and detention of more than 1.300 protesters gathered today in Moscow and across Russia to rally against the politically motivated detention of prominent opposition activist Aleksei Navalny, Natalia Zviagina, Amnesty International’s Russia Director said: “Russian authorities relentlessly unleash reprisals against peaceful protesters what we saw today has only confirmed this. The police ignored their duty to guarantee the right to peaceful assembly and instead indiscriminately beat and arbitrarily arrested protesters, many of whom were young people. Amnesty International monitors witnessed first-hand the viciousness of the police response in Moscow. Law enforcement officers acted roughly and unreasonably against overwhelmingly peaceful protesters, pushing people down the stairs and beating protesters with batons. At one occasion, a policeman hit a man on the head with a baton simply for asking “What are you doing?”

The Guardian: Thousands of supporters of Alexei Navalny have begun to protest in cities across Russia to call for the opposition leader’s release from jail. Demonstrators gathered in cities and towns in Siberia and the far east with rallies in Moscow and St Petersburg expected to begin at 2pm local time (1100 GMT). Police have made more than 167 arrests, according to the website OVD-Info, as the Kremlin attempts to break up the unsanctioned rallies by force. The protests are likely to be the country’s largest since 2017.

RFE/RL: Thousands of demonstrators were braving brutally cold weather and threats of police crackdowns across Russia on January 23 to call for the release of opposition politician Aleksei Navalny, a Kremlin critic jailed last weekend upon returning to Moscow after medical treatment in Germany for Novichok poisoning. The first rallies began in Siberia and the Far East with large crowds taking to the streets in Khabarovsk, Vladivostok, Novosibirsk and other cities despite the subfreezing temperatures and heavy security presence. Reports suggest the protests were likely to be Russia’s largest since March 2017 when coordinated anti-government demonstrations took place in 99 cities and towns across the country.

Caucasian Knot: Activists of the Stavropol Alexei Navalny’s office and local farmers are preparing solo pickets, despite the police’s warnings and detentions of Alexei’s supporters. The “Caucasian Knot” has reported that in Southern Russia, activists claimed pressure from the law enforcement bodies in connection with the planned actions in support of Alexei Navalny.

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