Mass Protests as Thousands March Across Russia for Navalny

World | April 22, 2021, Thursday // 09:22
Bulgaria: Mass Protests as Thousands March Across Russia for Navalny

Thousands of people around Russia have joined unauthorised rallies to protest against the detention of jailed opposition leader Alexei Navalny.

They are calling for Navalny, who has been on hunger strike for weeks, to receive proper medical care. More than 1,000 people were reportedly arrested.

Navalny, 44, was jailed in February and is demanding medical attention for acute back pain and leg numbness.

The largest protest was in Moscow, but others took place in major cities.

These included St Petersburg, Vladivostok in the Far East, a number of cities in Siberia, and the central city of Vladimir where Navalny is being held.

The opposition had hoped Wednesday's protests would be the largest in years, but reports suggest they have been smaller than those that took place shortly before Navalny was jailed.

More than 14,000 people protested in 29 cities, police said. This included 6,000 people who gathered in Moscow.

But estimates from monitoring groups tend to far exceed official police figures. One such group, OVD-Info, said more than 1,000 people had been detained nationwide.

Many of Navalny's supporters who did make it out on Wednesday said they were afraid, but they were passionate: in Moscow, they shouted for Navalny's freedom and they called Vladimir Putin a killer.

In Moscow, riot police urged people to leave the protest area and formed barricades to try and contain the demonstrators' route.

In St Petersburg was different: hundreds were arrested there, some stunned with electric shockers by police.

Team Navalny are claiming success. But their goal was to get him released, or at least get him a doctor, and the Kremlin is unlikely to be persuaded by Wednesday's crowds.

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Tags: Navalny, Navalny's, Moscow, Russia, St Petersburg
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