Russia: Opposition leaders and supporters held

Russian Police has detained opposition leader Alexei Navalny and hundreds of activists while they were on a street protest challenging the inauguration of President Vladimir Putin for his fourth term as a President. There have been demonstrations in more than 90 towns and cities in Russia called by Navalny who has labelled the President as a tsar-like autocrat.

Navalny had also addressed his supporters and gave them the chant, “Down with the Tsar”. President Putin had come to power for his fourth term after a landslide victory in elections in March which had confirmed his grip on power for next 6 years. The fourth term will thus make him the longest-serving Russian leader who led the nation for 24 years. He has been in power since 2000 either as a Prime Minister or the President. Putin enjoys an overwhelming approval rating of over 80 percent and is regarded as the Father of the Nation by his supporter base. Latter believe that under his leadership Russian stature has considerably increased in the global sphere which has helped foster national pride.

Navalny had been banned from contesting the election after implicating him under false allegations. Protestors gathered at the Pushkin Square, Moscow were shouting the slogans of “Russia without Putin” and “Putin is a Thief”. Ilya Yashin, another leader of the opposition has stated that the Moscow police were planning to charge Navalny under charges of disobedience to a police officer which can land him in jail for 30 days.

Navalny has been jailed on many occasions before for organizing protests against the ruling government. Protestors were however unsure of what the protests will ultimately achieve. Many were of the view that nothing will actually change on the ground and the protests are merely a vent of public anger. An organization which monitors detentions stated that 1575 people had been detained across Russia with many of them in Moscow. Protests were seen in Moscow, Far East, Siberia and even St. Petersburg.

Putin has always regarded Navalny as a troublemaker who is fuelling chaos in the nation on behalf of Washington. He had bagged 56 million votes which make about 77 percent in all which handed the biggest election win. The European observers had stated that there was no clear opposition and an increasing pressure on the critics.


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