Monday 24 July 2017

Everything you need to know about the anti-government protests in Russia

A vocal critic of President Vladimir Putin has been arrested.

By Prudence Wade

Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny has been arrested ahead of anti-government protests in Russia.

Here’s everything you need to know about the unfolding situation.

What are the protests about?

People are demonstrating against alleged fraud in the Russian government.

The protests are set to be a repeat of the nationwide protests Navalny led in March, when over 1,000 demonstrators were arrested. That protest was sparked by a report Navalny published accusing Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev of corruption.

The BBC reports that 169 locations across the country have been given permission for demonstrations, which falls on Russia Day – the national holiday commemorating Russia’s declaration of sovereignty in 1990.

What happened in Moscow?

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Although city authorities had already agreed to a location for the gathering, at the last minute Navalny called for it to be moved to one of Moscow’s main thoroughfares. He said contractors hired to build a stage at the agreed-upon venue could not do their work after apparently coming under official pressure.

After the change, Moscow police warned that “any provocative actions from the protesters’ side will be considered a threat to public order and will be immediately suppressed”.

What happened to Navalny?

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Navalny’s wife Yulia said that he has been arrested outside his Moscow home on his way to the main demonstration in the capital.

She said on his Twitter feed that he was arrested outside his home about half an hour before the demonstration was to begin.

A spokeswoman for Navalny said electricity has been cut in his Moscow offices. Navalny’s Fund for Fighting Corruption had been providing updates on protests throughout the country on Monday.

What happens next?

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Demonstrations have already been happening across the rest of the country. Police in St Petersburg arrested about 50 protesters at the unsanctioned protest at Mars Field. As police detained demonstrators, hundreds of others shouted slogans including “Putin is a thief” and “Shame!”

On Twitter, Yulia said “our plans haven’t changed” so it is likely that the protest will continue in Moscow as planned.

There was no immediate comment from police on why Navalny had been arrested, or where he was taken. He intends on running for president next year.

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