A National Guard officer in Buryatia has declared in a video shared on YouTube that police illegally arrested demonstrators in Ulan-Ude, where local residents have demanded the invalidation of September 9’s mayoral election results. In his video appeal, Viktor Khorzhiev also calls on colleagues in the National Guard not to obey “obviously criminal orders.”
“We are against the political repressions that have consumed our city,” Khorzhiev says in his YouTube video. “Freedom to political prisoners! These arrests were illegal!” Appealing to his colleagues, he also says, “I ask you not to obey obviously criminal orders. [...] Please do not abuse your authority.”
A gunner in the National Guard’s Paramilitary Security Force, Khorzhiev told Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty that the response from his colleagues, so far, has been “positive.”
On September 9, locals started demonstrating in central Ulan-Ude to demand the release of two arrested followers of “warrior-shaman” Alexander Gabyshev, who is currently trekking on foot to Moscow to “exorcise” Vladimir Putin’s spirit from the capital. The protests later became political, as demonstrators demanded new mayoral elections, rejecting the victory of Igor Shutenkov, an independent candidate supported by United Russia, the country's ruling political party.
On September 15, a court in Ulan-Ude jailed local activist Dmitry Khariev, as he awaits trial for allegedly attacking a National Guardsmen with tear gas on September 12, though protesters say it was the authorities who released the tear gas. Officials arrested 17 people in the incident.