Campaign diary

Punishing protesters

Tverskaya Oct73

Protesters on Moscow’s Tverskaya Street on October 7. “The only source of power in the Russian Federation is its multi-ethnic people.” Photo by Evgeny Feldman from https://navalny.feldman.photo/

By Sarah Hurst

The protests across Russia on October 7 attracted media attention worldwide, but now that interest has waned, arrests and trials are happening continuously. The website OVD-Info that monitors politically-motivated arrests has published a regional rundown of what’s happened so far in the wake of the weekend protests. Here are just a few of the incidents.

Yesterday Alexei Navalny’s campaign chief Leonid Volkov appeared in court for an appeal against his 20-day prison sentence. The appeal was rejected. Volkov’s wife is due to give birth within the next few days. She was already too heavily pregnant to attend the appeal.

Navalny’s campaign coordinator in St. Petersburg, Polina Kostyleva, who had already been fined 20,000 roubles, was sentenced to an additional 40 hours of compulsory work for organising the protest on October 7. A small group of activists in St. Petersburg attempted to camp out in Palace Square that night, and have been returning each day since, but many of them have been detained and sentenced. One received a whopping 32 days in prison – for allegedly violating two different laws – and others got sentences of slightly fewer days or fines.

The coordinator of Navalny’s campaign headquarters in Krasnodar, Miroslav Valkovich, was sentenced to 10 days in prison on Saturday night. Navalny’s campaign coordinator in Smolensk, Andrei Volobuyev, was sentenced to eight days.

Commemorating Boris Nemtsov

Fortunately activists in Moscow and St. Petersburg were able to commemorate what would have been Boris Nemtsov’s 58th birthday yesterday without trouble from the police. In Moscow people brought flowers to the bridge in front of the Kremlin where the popular opposition leader was shot dead in February 2015 and released 58 balloons into the air. In St. Petersburg balloons were also released and a banner with the word “Boris!” (“Fight!”) was hung from a bridge over the Neva. A few activists also gathered late in the evening with candles spelling out the word “Boris”. Open Russia made the documentary “Nemtsov” available on YouTube.

Early this morning the head of Navalny’s Foundation for Fighting Corruption, Roman Rubanov, was detained at his home in connection with billionaire Alisher Usmanov’s successful lawsuit against Navalny. A judge had ordered Navalny to delete material in the video “Don’t Call Him Dimon” with allegations about Usmanov, and Navalny refused. Rubanov tweeted that authorities are now threatening to criminally prosecute Navalny if he doesn’t delete the segment.

As for Putin’s efforts to win re-election against no opponents, he stepped things up yesterday by promising via the Finance Ministry that the price of vodka would not go up in an election year. He also spoke about Russia’s record grain harvest, in true Soviet style.

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