On 12 June 2017 anti-corruption protests, called by opposition activist and politician NAVALNY, took place in cities across Russia
That day, before the demonstrations had begun, ALEXEI NAVALNY was arrested outside his home in Moscow. He was sentenced to 30 days in jail for staging rallies that did not have official permission. His term of ‘administrative detention’ was later reduced to 25 days by a court on the grounds Navalny had two children and needed medical treatment for his eye [damaged in an earlier attack, ed].
OVD-Info reports that at least 1,720 people were detained at the protests, including no less than 866 in Moscow and a further 658 people in St. Petersburg. The USA, the EU and international human rights organizations have condemned the arrests. Amnesty International said protesters were subjected to cruel and degrading treatment.
Denis Krivosheev, Deputy Director for Europe and Central Asia at Amnesty International, said:
“The Russian authorities have used mass detentions as a tactic to crush peaceful protests. But the reprisals haven’t stopped there. Hundreds of peaceful protesters in Moscow and St Petersburg were locked up in police stations overnight, in plainly degrading conditions, crowded cells with little or no food, bedding or easy access to sanitation.
“We have received numerous reports of people piled on top of one another in police stations, where police dealing with extreme backlogs in processing cases forced them to stay overnight on the floor or even on the street while in police custody. It is an outrage for anybody to be detained and subjected to these inhumane conditions, let alone detained simply for peacefully expressing their views. It appears the authorities in Russia wanted to send a further message by making these detentions slow, humiliating and painful.
“The Russian authorities must stop detaining peaceful protesters, whose only ‘crime’ was to irk those in power. If there are any case where protesters are arrested for an internationally recognizable offence, they must be treated in a humane manner,”
On 14 June, in further developments that may well be related, given the lack of independence of the courts in Russia, a court in the Oryol Region turned down a request by Navalny’s brother Oleg to mitigate his sentence, because Oleg had not displayed “law-abiding behaviour”.
On 15 June, Vladislav Zdolnikov and Alexander Brusentsev, two staff members from the Anticorruption Foundation headed by Navalny, fled to Ukraine after Roskomnadzor, the government media regulator, launched investigations against them.
That day, in an additional blow to Navalny, who wants to be a candidate for the presidency in 2018, the head of the federal Electoral Commission, Ella Pamfilova, said he was almost certain to be barred from participating. This is because of his criminal record for a conviction Navalny contends was politically motivated.
Rights in Russia
- ‘Russia: Police humiliate and mistreat hundreds of detained peaceful protesters,’ Amnesty International, 14 June 2017
- ‘1,700 people detained at Russia’s anti-corruption protests [OVD-Info],’ Rights in Russia, 16 June 2017
- “Russia Criticized For Detaining More Than 1,500 Anticorruption Protesters,’ RFE/RL, 13 June 2017
- ‘Russia protests: Opposition leader Alexei Navalny sentenced,’ BBC, 12 June 2017
- “Moscow Court Cuts Navalny’s 30-Day Jail Term To 25,’ RFE/RL, 16 June 2017
- Two Russian Opposition Activists Flee To Ukraine, RFE/RL, 16 June 2017
- ‘Russian Court Turns Down Request Of Navalny’s Jailed Brother To Mitigate Sentence,’ RFE/RL, 14 June 2017
- Russian Elections Chief Says ‘Practically No Chance’ Navalny Can Get On Presidential Ballot,’ RFE/RL, 15 June 2017