If you need a reminder of what Donald Trump’s idol, Russian President Vladimir Putin, thinks of the people’s right to democratic reform, look no further than Saturday’s opposition protests in Moscow and the police’s horribly violent response.
By Sunday, the number of people arrested at the Moscow rally
1,400, according to the Associated Press, citing the monitoring
group OVD-Info. That is the highest number of mass detentions in Russia a
decade, the news agency said.
Most of the protesters were released, but about 150 remained
in custody on Sunday, according to the report.
Per the AP:
Crackdowns on the anti-government protesters began days before the rally. Opposition leader Alexei Navalny was arrested and sentenced Wednesday to 30 days in jail for calling for Saturday’s protest against election authorities who barred some opposition candidates from running in the Sept. 8 vote for Moscow city council.
Videos circulated on Saturday of the violence
employed by baton-wielding police forces, which caused multiple broken bones
and head injuries, according to the AP. Putin was out of town in St. Petersburg,
leading a naval parade at the time.
About 8,000 demonstrators participated in Saturday’s rally, according
to estimates, less than half the number that attended a similar protest last
weekend. As the BBC described
the scene, “Police in riot gear pushed back the crowd from barriers
surrounding the mayor’s office in central Moscow, hauling off detainees to
“The question is whether the anger over not being able to
nominate a candidate - even for lower-level, city elections - would galvanise
Muscovites into bigger, sustained expressions of dissent. After all, there are
lots of residents not happy with the way Moscow government and Mayor Sobyanin
run the city, or respond to popular concerns,” the BBC’s Oleg Boldyrev wrote.
Michael McFaul, the former U.S. ambassador to Russia, shared
a video and photos of the violence that are circulating on social media. “These police
actions seem rather anti-Russian to me,” he wrote.
Several news outlets also reported that Navalny was
hospitalized a day after his arrest with a “severe allergic reaction.” His
press secretary tweeted on
Sunday that Navalny had “severe
swelling of the face and redness of the skin. The source of the allergic
reaction is undetermined. For all his life, Alexey had never experienced an
The New York Times noted
that Navalny was
attacked in 2017 by an assailant who threw some type of chemical on his
face, causing 80% loss of the sight in one of his eyes.
“As the doctor who treated Aleksei’s severe eye burn two
years ago, I can say with confidence that both today and in 2017 what happened
was a result of the damage inflicted by an undetermined chemical substance,”
Navalny’s doctor wrote on social media, according to the Times.