Russian activist applying for permit to join Navalny's June 12 protests is attacked inside Novorossiysk City Hall
On Friday in Novorossiysk, two men attacked an activist inside City Hall, as he tried to apply for a permit to hold a protest on June 12, when opposition politician Alexey Navalny plans to stage the next round of his nationwide anti-corruption demonstrations. Video of the attack later appeared on the social network Vkontakte.
The two men who beat up Nikolai Yezhov reportedly entered City Hall with him, apparently also planning to apply for city permits. “But instead they viciously attacked him, right inside City Hall, almost knocking him out. Then they smashed a vase and called the police, claiming that he had destroyed property,” says an eyewitness report published in the Vkontakte community Novorossiysk Online.
The group also shared a video showing Yezhov lying on the ground. In the footage, when police officers come to put him in their patrol car, Yezhov can be heard saying that he was attacked.
According to an Internet user named Artem Drozov, who says he accompanied Yezhov to City Hall, Yezhov collapsed in the street outside the building. “He became unwell. He has heart problems,” Drozov wrote, saying the paramedics were called. The police soon showed up, Drozov says, and then they brought Yezhov to the station to charge him with breaking the vase.
Drozov said this was their third attempt to apply for a June 12 demonstration permit. For the previous two days, unknown men — including some men dressed as Cossacks — even refused to let them inside City Hall, blocking their way by force. According to comments in the Novorossiysk Online community, the activists also received threats from Alexander Yamenskov, the city’s deputy mayor, who manages Novorossiysk’s police coordination and civil defense and emergency situations.
The activists say they first planned to apply for a demonstration permit on May 29, but one of their members, Angelina Rayevskaya, suddenly fell out of contact.
Opposition politician Alexey Navalny is calling on activists nationwide to stage anti-corruption protests on June 12, when the country celebrates “Russia Day,” commemorating the beginning of constitutional reform in Soviet Russia.
On March 26, Navalny organized similar nationwide anti-corruption protests, sparking some of the biggest street demonstrations since the 2011-2012 rallies, when tens of thousands of Muscovites marched in opposition to alleged voter fraud in the State Duma elections.
Alexey Navalny is running for president, hoping to find a spot on the ballot in March 2018. According to federal laws, however, he cannot stand for elected office, thanks to a suspended criminal sentence for misappropriating about $500,000 from a state-owned lumber company. Navalny denies the charges, and the European Court of Human Rights even ruled that his first conviction violated his right to a fair trial. In November 2016, Russia’s Supreme Court overturned the original 2013 sentence, but a Kirov district court repeated the verdict and sentence just three months later.