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Navalny’s nationwide protests: Round II Russians across the country brave the cold and the cops, all over again

What’s happening today? On January 31, opposition figure Alexey Navalny’s supporters are staging protests across Russia for the second consecutive weekend. His team of activists says it anticipates demonstrations in at least 142 different cities, and dozens of rallies are taking place elsewhere around the world. In Moscow, protesters plan to assemble at Lubyanka Square and Staraya Square at noon, local time (4 a.m., EST), and a demonstration scheduled at the same time is being organized in St. Petersburg at Nevsky Avenue. Just like last weekend, the local authorities have declared the rallies illegal.

Background: Activists are marching for the release of Alexey Navalny, who has been in jail since returning to Russia earlier this month. Last August, he nearly died after being exposed to a deadly nerve agent reportedly administered by Russian federal agents. On Tuesday, February 2, Navalny returns to court, where a judge will decide whether his recuperation in Germany constitutes a parole violation in connection with a previous conviction. Navalny could be sentenced to years in prison as punishment.

Before last weekend’s protests, Navalny’s Anti-Corruption Foundation (an organization that the Russian Justice Ministry has designated as a “foreign agent”) released an investigative report about a seaside “palace” outside the city of Gelendzhik that allegedly belongs to the president. The accompanying documentary film has already been viewed more than 100 million times on YouTube. The Kremlin has repeatedly denied that Vladimir Putin is involved in the residence in any way, and pro-government media outlets have criticized Navalny’s claims. After more than a week of news coverage, the billionaire Akrady Rotenberg — one of the president’s long-time, close personal friends — announced that he is the site’s majority owner. Rotenberg says it’s an “apartment hotel” that won’t be ready for a few more years.

Last weekend, on January 23, Navalny’s supporters marched in almost 200 cities across Russia, resulting in more than 4,000 arrests and two dozen criminal cases against demonstrators, including felony charges against activists who allegedly attacked police officers and even protesters who violated coronavirus lockdown measures. Officials used this latter public safety concern to place several of Navalny’s top colleagues under house arrest, including the politician Lyubov Sobol and Navalny’s own brother, Oleg.

Meduza is monitoring the protests on January 31 and reporting major events below.

Where to watch live footage: Navalny Live, Dozhd, Current Time

The situation as of 8:00 p.m. Moscow time (12:00 p.m. EST)

The protests in Moscow and St. Petersburg have come to an end. According to the most recent figures from OVD-Info, the nationwide arrest count for today is upwards of 4,500 people — a new record for the most people detained in a single day. This number includes more than 1,400 detentions in Moscow and nearly 1,000 in St. Petersburg. 

Many detainees are still custody at police stations; some are being written up for violations or even taken to court. Alexey Navalny’s wife, Yulia Navalnaya, has been released from police custody after being written up for violating the rules for holding rallies. She is set to appear in court tomorrow.

The authorities have already started opening dozens of criminal cases in connection with the rallies, including ones over alleged attacks on law enforcement officers.

This ends Meduza’s live blog coverage for today. More detailed reporting still to come!

Valentin Yegorshin / AP / Scanpix / LETA

Yulia Navalnaya has been in police custody for more than three hours. Her lawyer told MBX Media that the police are trying to “agree on what to pin on her” (in other words, they still haven’t written her up for anty

The facial recognition system in the Moscow Metro was used to detain protesters today, reports TASS. Apparently, the system’s database contains the faces of people who have repeatedly taken part in unauthorized rallies.

Via the state news agency TASS:

Law enforcement officers have identified another 10 people who, during the unauthorized rallies on January 23 and 31, participated in illegal actions, including in attacks on police officers, a source in law enforcement said.

A riot police officer pushed a 65-year-old Chelyabinsk woman during the rally earlier today, injuring her arm. Team Navalny in Chelyabinsk has since published medical documents showing that her arm is fractured.

Three cases of attacks on law enforcement officers were recorded in St. Petersburg today, an anonymous source tells Interfax.

About 15 people could face criminal charges for attacking police officers in Moscow, reports the state news agency TASS, citing an unnamed source.

7:00 p.m. Moscow time update (11:00 a.m. EST)

There have been no reports in the last hour of any remaining protest gatherings in Moscow or St. Petersburg (nor have there been any reports of police arresting protesters). In total, as of 7:00 p.m. Moscow time, 1,349 people have been detained in Moscow. The countrywide arrest count has reached 4,347 people.

Police officials in St. Petersburg are denying reports of the use of stun grenades and pepper gas against protesters, reports RIA Novosti.

A map of Moscow showing how the protest in support of Navalny progressed and where the rallies took place.

Nationwide arrest counts hits 4,096 people, breaking last weekend’s record number of detentions in a single day.

In Rostov-on-Don, 71 people were arrested during today’s demonstration. According to OVD-Info, 14 of them are being charged with petty hooliganism.

4,000 people have been arrested nationwide, reports OVD-Info.

“Free Navalny” protests in Rome today.

Mauro Scrobogna / ZUMA / Scanpix / LETA
Mauro Scrobogna / ZUMA / Scanpix / LETA
Mauro Scrobogna / ZUMA / Scanpix / LETA

Opposition politician Ilya Yashin being taken away in a police van.

Meduza

An unusual scene in Moscow: a man approaches a group of riot police with a bat and is detained immediately.

A man shouting “Russia will be free” as police officers arrest him during the protest in Volgograd. Caucasian Knot reported dozens of arrests, but according to OVD-Info 13 people were detained.

Caucasian Knot

Protests are also taking place in Berlin in today.

Christian Mang / Reuters / Scanpix/ Leta
Christian Mang / Reuters / Scanpix/ Leta

Harsh arrests caught on video in Moscow today.

Meduza

Protesters chanting “Putin is a thief” during today’s demonstration in Krasnodar.

yuga4u

Today’s nationwide arrest count has reached 3,614 people, reports OVD-Info. More than 1,000 people have been detained in Moscow. You can check out a map of the detentions here.

Residents of a house on Moscow’s Nizhnyaya Krasnoselskaya Street are throwing rolls of toilet paper out their window at a special detachment of police officers who are carrying out harsh arrests on the street below, reports Meduza’s correspondent.

In the video below, officers can be seen shoving protesters.

Задержания во дворах
Meduza

Yulia Navalnaya is being detained at Moscow’s Shcherbinsky Police Station and isn’t being allowed access to her lawyer.

Team Navalny has announced that today’s march in Moscow is over (though arrests are still ongoing).

Opposition politician Ilya Yashin has been detained.

Arrests taking place on Nizhnyaya Krasnoselskaya Street in Moscow.

Meduza

A detachment of riot police officers are pushing protesters away from the entrance to the Komsomolskaya Metro Station, reports Meduza’s correspondent. They’ve been ordered to “detain everyone.”

Liliya Yapparova / Meduza
Liliya Yapparova / Meduza

Police officers in St. Petersburg are reportedly using public transit buses to transport detainees.

Protesters on Moscow’s Olkhovskaya Street chanting “Let us through!”

Улицу перекрыли автозаки
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