News of the Day: 24 January 2021

The Guardian: The Kremlin has broken its silence on Russia’s biggest opposition protest in years, claiming the size of the demonstrations against Vladimir Putin were overstated and accusing the US of meddling in Russia’s internal affairs. A record 3,500 people were arrested as police tried to shut down unsanctioned rallies in 10 time zones across the country in support of Alexei Navalny, the opposition leader who was jailed upon returning to Russia after being treated for a suspected federal security service poisoning. Clashes broke out in Moscow, St Petersburg, Vladivostok and other cities as some protesters threw snowballs and traded blows with riot police in body armour and helmets. Dozens of people were injured. The level of violence was unusual for protests in Russia, where heavily armoured police usually methodically kettle protesters without resorting to open fighting in the streets. Videos on Saturday showed police beating protesters with truncheons, and one showed an officer kicking a female protester in the stomach and knocking her to the ground. She was hospitalised in a critical condition. The officer has not been identified.

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