It’s a scene that Vladimir Putin certainly wanted to squelch, as over a thousand protesters gathered to denounce his inauguration to a fourth presidential term on Monday. Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny was carried off by police as well as some 1,600 protesters. We can only look at this scene and cringe because it seems like something that will be possible here if Donald Trump has his way.
The number of protesters nationwide is remarkable, considering they all knew they would likely be arrested. It speaks volumes about their opposition to Putin’s rule.
“Shame! Putin is a thief! He is not my czar!” shouted protesters in Pushkinskaya Square.
Putin may have wanted to crack down on the optics that his inauguration was a sham, but instead, he has drawn more attention to it with the arrests.
— The Voice of America (@VOANews) May 5, 2018
Russian officials say that Navalny didn’t get permits or approval for rallies carried out in Moscow and several other Russian cities. Navalny was told to take his protest to a location two miles away from Pushkinskaya Square in Moscow, but he refused. He asked his supporters to march down the main avenue toward the Kremlin.
Navalny’s supporters were detained in six Russian cities ahead of the protests and charged with resisting arrest and with violating public assembly laws.
In Russia, nationwide protests have erupted as Vladimir Putin prepares to begin his sixth presidential term. Hundreds of people have been arrested, including Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny https://t.co/Kc0uRt0WyK pic.twitter.com/bROOVkexUa
— CBS News (@CBSNews) May 5, 2018
Navalny is facing down anything Putin will throw at him, knowing that his voice is the thing Putin fears the most.
“We won’t have a free choice because Vladimir Putin is terrified. He’s afraid of competition and sees it as a threat,” said Navalny.
Today, Navalny looks like a bad-ass hero, but it’s important to keep in mind, he’s far from perfect.
Although he certainly seems heroic, fighting corruption and exposing the oligarchs’ greed, he has also expressed racist sentiment about Muslims, comparing them to cockroaches. He has nationalist leanings, with ties to neo-Nazi groups. His politics have been called “downright Trumpy” by Salon.
Opposition leader Alexei @navalny has been arrested in Moscow, along with dozens of other protesters, after urging Russians to take to the streets and protest against Putin's fourth presidential term.
So, what do we know about the Russian opposition leader? pic.twitter.com/Td283Z17a4
— dwnews (@dwnews) May 5, 2018
Nevertheless, these protesters showed incredible bravery, determined to let the world know they don’t believe Putin won the election fairly. Navalny was barred from entering the race for president because of a fraud conviction he says was politically motivated.
Navalny was released from detention on Sunday, and will appear in court on charges Friday, where he is likely to serve multiple short jail sentences of 15 days. His quick release seems timed perfectly to prevent more bad optics for Putin as his formal inauguration takes place. More protests are expected on Monday.
See more about the arrests in the video below:
Featured image: Screenshot via YouTube