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Riot police clash with thousands of protesters following activist’s sentencing in Russia’s Republic of Bashkortostan

Source: Meduza
Update: The Bashkortostan authorities have opened a criminal case for “mass rioting” over the protest in Baymak, the local news outlet Bashinform has reported, citing the head of the Bashkortostan Interior Ministry’s Public Council.

Thousands of protesters gathered outside of a court building in Baymak, a town in Russia’s Republic of Bashkortostan, on Wednesday in support of prominent local activist Fail Alsynov, who was sentenced to four years in prison on charges of “inciting ethnic hatred.” He plans to appeal the verdict.

The independent outlet Verstka reported that about 3,000 people joined the protest. According to eyewitnesses, the crowd was significantly larger than the one on January 15, when about 1,000 people gathered in opposition to Alsynov’s prosecution. The activist’s sentencing was originally scheduled for that day but was postponed in response to the demonstration.

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Police blocked off the road to Baymak in advance of the court’s decision on Wednesday, and eyewitnesses say the authorities jammed the Internet in Baymak. Protesters chanted “Freedom!” and demanded the dismissal of Bashkortostan’s governor, Radiy Khabirov, who reportedly requested the charges against Alsynov.

After Alsynov’s sentence was announced, police began detaining people outside of the court building, according to a correspondent from the Telegram channel “Govorit NeMoskva” who was at the scene. He said the arrests started after protesters managed to push back a group of OMON (riot police) officers who were standing outside the court building with shields. Several protesters were knocked to the ground.

OMON officers reportedly struck people with batons, prompting demonstrators to pelt them with snow, gloves, and hats, as well as to throw the officers’ batons back at them. The Telegram channels “Kushtau Bayram” and Sota said that police used tear gas against protesters. “Govorit NeMoskva” reported that officers threw smoke grenades, some of which activists cast back at them.

It’s unclear how many people were arrested: reports have ranged from five to several dozen. Sota wrote that at least two protesters were injured. Bashkortostan’s Interior Ministry has not commented on the clashes.

Amid the tensions surrounding Alsynov’s charges in Baymak, the messaging platform WhatsApp began experiencing outages in several of Russia’s regions. According to the Internet disruption tracker Sboi.rf, the problems began on Tuesday and continued into Wednesday. More than half of user complaints came from Bashkortostan, and the Telegram channel Baza speculated that the authorities may be jamming the service because of the Baymak protests.


Hundreds of protesters in Russia’s Bashkortostan demand activist’s release and governor’s dismissal


Hundreds of protesters in Russia’s Bashkortostan demand activist’s release and governor’s dismissal

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