2017–2018 Russian protests

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The 2017–2018 Russian protests are a long series of countrywide street protest actions and demonstrations in the Russian Federation, with the major requirements of:

  • suppressing corruption in the Russian government (from 26 March 2017 till spring 2018, in part ongoing);
  • abandoning the planned retirement age hike (since 14 June 2018, mass protests are ongoing).

Primarily, protests are led by Alexey Navalny. Also, eminent participants are Libertarian Party, Communist party of Russia, Open Russia and Artpodgotovka. As there is a separate article for the 2018 Russian pension protests, the information presented below is almost exclusively concerned to the anti-corruption manifestations. Furthermore, some actions occurred due to the situative reasons although have their root in the corruption at the different levels up to the highest echelons of the Russian power.

2017–2018 Russian protests
2017 Russian protests.jpg
Date
Location Cities all over Russia
Caused by
  • Opposition to Vladimir Putin, his autocratic rule and lack of rotation in power
  • Alleged corruption in the highest echelons of power, particularly by Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev
  • State repressions by trumped-up criminal cases
  • Alleged systematic violation of the human rights
  • Police brutality
  • Censorship and political propaganda in Media
  • Tax increase
  • Rising fuel prices
  • Collapsing infrastructure
  • New road toll system
  • Opposition to immigration
  • Military intervention in Ukraine and Syria
  • Sanction wars
  • Russia's Central Election Commission refused to register Alexey Navalny's 2018 presidential candidacy (since December 2017)
  • Incompetence and despotism of «Roskomnadzor» (since April 2018)
  • Raising the retirement age (since June 2018)
Goals
  • Resignation of Vladimir Putin and government
  • Investigation against Dmitry Medvedev and his resignation
  • Democratization of Russian political system
  • Release of political prisoners
  • Stop censorship and political propaganda in media
  • Cancellation of tax increase
  • Сounteraction to rising fuel prices
  • Cancellation of new road toll system
  • Visas for Central Asian and Caucasian migrants
  • End of military interventions in Ukraine and Syria, withdrawal of troops
  • Stop confrontation with European countries and abolishing of sanctions
  • Alexei Navalny to participate in 2018 presidential elections (until March 2018)
  • Stop internet censorship and blocking of Telegram messenger (since April 2018)
  • Cancellation of raising the retirement age (since June 2018)
Methods Demonstration, procession, rally, Internet activity, etc.
Status
  • 7 all-national rallies has taken place[a], covering more than 100 cities
  • Navalny has been arrested three times on charges of violating the rules of organization of the rally – firstly for 15 days, then for 25 days, then for 20 days[1]
  • Chairman of the Federation Council has proposed to forbid for kids to participate in protest rallies[2]
  • Governor of Kemerovo Aman Tuleyev resigned[3]
  • Retirement age raising reduced from 63 to 60 for women
  • Protests ongoing
Parties to the civil conflict

Russia Russian opposition

Lead figures
Number
Moscow:
15,000–25,000+[9]
Saint Petersburg:
6,000–10,000+[10]
Across Russia:
150,000
(according to the FBK)[11]
Unknown
Casualties
Injuries 2 police officers,[12][13] 1 national guard trooper[14]
Arrested 26 March 2017:
1,030–1,666[15][16]
29 April 2017:
200[17]
12 June 2017:
1,769[16]
7 October 2017:
290
5 November 2017:
448
28 January 2018:
371
5 May 2018:
1600[18]

The protests and demonstrations against corruption in the Russian government began in March 2017 after the release of the film He Is Not Dimon to You by Alexey Navalny's Anti-Corruption Foundation.

By March 2017, the setting in the country was already tense. Discontentment was triggered by the alleged corrupt activity of Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev presented in the investigative film He Is Not Dimon to You by Anti-Corruption Foundation, inadequate planned demolition of apartments in Moscow and protracted strikes of truck drivers related to the Platon toll system, ongoing since 2015. National protests against alleged corruption in the federal Russian government took place simultaneously in more than 100 cities across the country on 26 March 2017. They were caused by the lack of proper response from the Russian authorities to the published investigative film He Is Not Dimon to You, which had garnered more than 23 million views on YouTube. By Sunday evening, riot police in body armor and helmets had hauled in more than 1000 demonstrators in central Moscow, as the crowd, numbering in the tens of thousands, cheered, whistled and chanted – "Shame!", "Medvedev, resign!" and "Putin is a thief!"[19] The Levada Centre survey showed that 38% of surveyed Russians supported the protests and that 67% held Putin "entirely" or "to a large extent" responsible for high-level corruption.[20][21][22] A new wave of mass protests occurred on 12 June 2017. After the arrest of Alexei Navalny on September 29, hours before a planned rally in Nizhny Novgorod, a new wave of protests was announced for October 7, the birthday of Vladimir Putin.[23][24] Protests and uprisings continued in 2018 with the tendency to radicalization - a record amount of protestors was detained on 5 May, two days before Putin's inauguration. Mass rallies were held in more than 60 cities all over Russia. In Saint Petersburg and Moscow there were fights between protestors and police working with Cossacks.

Background[edit]

Protests in Moscow

In March 2017, Alexei Navalny and his Anti-Corruption Foundation launched the campaign He Is Not Dimon To You, accusing Dmitry Medvedev, the prime minister and former president of Russia, of corruption.[25] The authorities both ignored the report produced by Navalny and commented that the report was issued by a "convicted criminal" and was not worth commenting on.

On 26 March, Navalny organized a series of anti-corruption rallies in different cities across Russia. This appeal was responded to by the representatives of 95 of Russian cities, and four cities abroad: London, Prague, Basel and Bonn.[26] In some cities, the rallies were sanctioned by the authorities, but in others, including Saint Petersburg, they were prohibited. Moscow authorities declined the event request by Navalny in the city centre, but did not suggest any alternative location. Navalny referred to a decision of the Constitutional court and declared[clarification needed] the event for being permitted.[27] The Moscow police said that 500 people had been detained, but according to the human rights group OVD-Info, 1,030 people were detained in Moscow alone, including Navalny himself.[28][29][30]

The Main Department of the Ministry of Internal Affairs posted a message on its official website with a call to Moscow residents not to join the event. It said that the action in Moscow was not coordinated with the municipality and was illegal.[31]

Events[edit]

26 March 2017[edit]

Protesters in Yekaterinburg chant The one not jumping is Dimon
Alexei Navalny arrested during the March protests

On March 26, an estimated 60,000 people took part in anti-corruption protests across 80 Russian towns and cities and hundreds of protesters have been detained, including opposition leader Alexei Navalny and employees of the Anti-Corruption Foundation.[32][33]

Twenty minutes after the start of the protests in the centre of Moscow, Alexei Navalny was detained by the police and locked inside a patrol vehicle. The protesters identified the vehicle and tried to shake it, but Navalny did not wish to be helped at the time, and urged protesters to continue their peaceful protests in the centre of the city even without him. According to the main Department of the Ministry of Internal Affairs of Russia for the city of Moscow, the rally was attended by about 7-8 thousand people. However, Anti-corruption Foundation said that the streets in Moscow gathered 25-30 thousand people, with no less than 150 thousand for the whole country.

For several hours from the start of the rally, starting at 2 PM local time, people gradually began to gather on Pushkin square. Activists hang campaign material monument in the centre of the square and threw laced sneakers on nearby trees and lampposts. Some put up posters depicting ducklings along Tverskaya Street, referencing key points in Navalny's film.

Soon, the police started making arrests paying special attention to people hanging editions of a constitution or posters, waving flags of Russia. Alexei Navalny was arrested at 2:15 PM although he did not show any signs of protest. He invoked the people not to repel him from the police but continue walking along the Tverskaya Street. Although the initial protests sought the resignation of the Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev, arrests were met with slogans against Putin. Some of the protesters in Moscow shouted "Russia without Putin", "Putin is a thief and a murderer", "It is our city" and "Russia will be free", drawing parallels with previous mass-protests of 2011–13.

Tverskaya Street and Pushkinskaya Square the whole time until the end of the meeting were on patrol by an unmarked helicopter. Later[when?] the police blocked part of the streets, Pushkinskaya Metro station, and underground passages near the protesters.[citation needed].

According with Human Rights Watch, Russian authorities have harassed, intimidated, or threatened to expel schoolchildren and university students who participated in anti-corruption demonstrations on March 26. 70 children were arrested in Moscow alone.[34]

The United States Department of State condemned the detention of protesters, including Alexei Navalny, stating that "detaining peaceful protesters, human rights observers, and journalists is an affront to core democratic values."[35]

Number of protesters[edit]

29 April 2017[edit]

Action organized by Open Russia civic movement led by Mikhail Khodorkovsky took place in dozens of cities all across the Russia. Action was called "Fed up with" ("Nadoel" in Russian) with the aim to urge for changes in Russian political rule. Protestors called Putin and government to resign. In Saint Petersburg, Tyumen, Kemerovo, Tula and several other cities rallies were suppressed by police, total amount of 200 people were detained countrywide.[98] As a consequence, Open Russia organization was labeled as "undesirable" by Russia's prosecutor general, so that it was officially banned from operating in the country and its website was blocked by official Media Authorities Roscomnadzor [99]

12 June 2017[edit]

A new wave of protests with the same goals was announced by Navalny on spring. They took place in even more cities. According to Reuters and rights groups, tens of thousands of protesters attended and more than one thousand were detained. A Moscow court sentenced Navalny to 30 days in prison for calling people to the protest.[100][33]

White House spokesman Sean Spicer condemned the arrest of protesters and called for their release. Russian authorities rejected US petitions and criticised the widening on the sanctions against Russia.[101][102]

7 October 2017[edit]

Protest actions against corruption in the highest echelons of the Russian government were held on October 7, 2017 on the day of the 65th anniversary of V.V. Putin in the form of rallies, processions and single pickets in 79 cities of Russia. At the rallies came from 2560 to 21520 people, like the supporters of Navalny, and his opponents. The main rallies were rallies in St. Petersburg and Moscow. In Saint Petersburg, the action began on the Field of Mars, and in Moscow on Tverskaya Street. The reason for their conduct were facts of corruption V.V. Putin and his associates. 290 participants of the action were detained.

5 November 2017[edit]

In Moscow, many police were present, the Okhotny Ryad station was closed. The police conducted selective searches of citizens, many were taken away in padded wagons. At 13:00 on the message "OVD-Info" in Moscow, 82 people were detained. 2 people were detained in Saint Petersburg, 4 in Krasnoyarsk. Also detained a representative of the "Echo of Moscow". Later in Saint Petersburg, another 10 people were detained near the Smolny Institute.

At 21:00 on the message "OVD-Info", the number of detainees increased to 448 people. Most of the detentions took place in Moscow - 339, in Saint Petersburg 21 people, according to unconfirmed reports, 49 of them - minors. It remains to spend the night in the police departments, on the night of November 6, about 112 people.

28 January 2018[edit]

Protests within the framework of the "Strike of voters" were held on January 28, 2018 in the form of rallies, processions and solitary pickets in 118 cities of Russia. The reason was the refusal of the CEC to register at the election of Alexei Navalny, after which he announced a protest on January 28, and urged all his supporters not to come to the elections and agitate others not to take part in them. The Ministry of Internal Affairs estimated the number of participants in the shares of 3500-4500 people, the HROs - in 5000. According to the supporters of Navalny, the participants were much more. The New Times, referring to eyewitnesses, reported 4,000-5,000 protesters in Moscow and 2,000-3,000 in Saint Petersburg. In Yekaterinburg, in an agreed action, Mayor Yevgeny Roizman and Navaly Head of Staff Leonid Volkov (politician) took part and spoke at the rally. The presidential candidate, Vladimir Zhirinovsky, spoke with several protestors on Tverskaya Street in Moscow. According to various estimates, about 15,000 people took part in the protests.

30 April 2018[edit]

Approximately 13000 people gathered in Moscow central Sakharov square for a protest rally to urge government to unblock Telegram Messenger.[103] The app was blocked by Roscomnadzor, Russian media authorities who claimed it was used to coordinate terror attacks. Protesters denounced the block as the censorship act and freedom of speech violation.

5 May 2018[edit]

Mass protest actions and rallies took place all over the country against Vladimir Putin fourth inauguration. More than thousand people were arrested countrywide.[104]

July-September 2018[edit]

Rally against the pension reform in Moscow (2 September, organized by the Communist party)

From July, almost every weekend, protest rallies and demonstrations were organized against the planned retirement age hike. Such events occurred in nearly all major cities countrywide including Novosibirsk, St.-Petersburg and Moscow. Total number of participants exceeded 200 thousands, with maximal single-event attendance of about 15 thousands (in Moscow). These events were coordinated by all opposition parties with the leading role of the communists. Also trade unions and some individual politicians (among whom Navalny) functioned as organizers of the public actions.

The most noticeable street rallies, related with the retirement-age reform, proceeded on July 1, July 18, July 28-29, September 2 and September 9, 2018.[105] So, on September 2, large-scale anti-reform manifestations were led by the Russian communists and some other left-wing oppositional political forces.[106] A week later, on September 9, the rallies were organized by Alexey Navalny all over Russia, over 800 people were detained.[107][108][109]

Aftermath[edit]

Volunteers and employees of Newcaster.TV and Anti-corruption Foundation arrested in Moscow

The Anti-Corruption Foundation building was evacuated due to a bomb message, interrupting the webcast of the protest conducted from the office. Soon the staff of the Foundation were detained by police, who also began to conduct searches and seizure of equipment.[citation needed]

Some time later, Alexei Navalny was charged with organizing an unlawful meeting. An ACF employee and the head of the Moscow branch of the unregistered "Party of progress" Nikolay Lyaskin was detained for 25 days. Leonid Volkov, the head of Alexei Navalny's presidential campaign, was charged with extremism.[110]

About 1,000 people were detained overall, most of whom were released on Monday. Many detainees were under 25 years of age. This protest is considered by critics of the Russian government to be the biggest since the March 2012 Bolotnaya protests for Moscow, which happened in reaction to Putin's election. Pro-government critics, however, linked Navalny's activities with appealing to the Russian youth, mainly by promoting "rebellious movements" as a way of spending free time.[citation needed]

In May, Yury Kuly was sentenced to 8 months in jail, and on 24 May Alexander Shpakov was sentenced for 1.5 years in jail, both for alleged violence against the police on the 26 March rally in Moscow.[111]

Police circles a group of protesters in Saint Petersburg, 12 June 2017

An April 2017 Levada poll found that 45% of surveyed Russians support the resignation of Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev,[112] while 33% opposed. Newsweek reported that "An opinion poll by the Moscow-based Levada Center indicated that 38 percent of Russians supported the rallies and that 67 percent held Putin personally responsible for high-level corruption".[22]

A May 2017 Levada poll found that 58% of surveyed Russians supported the protests, while 23% said they disapprove.[113]

Government reaction[edit]

Russian state television completely ignored the protests on Sunday. Monday morning's bulletins were similarly blank. Pro-Kremlin newspapers also ignored the protests.[114]

Across the country students have reported being press-ganged into lectures warning them of the perils of supporting those opposed to Putin. Some schools and universities have simply tasked teachers with persuading their students not to go to protests. "They don't have the right to 'reeducate' us, to change our political views," a 13-year-old student said. "I think they're doing this because they're afraid. They know that one day we'll be able to vote."[115]

Alisa Vox, a Russian singer, appeared in the video for "Baby Boy", posted online on May 15. It has amassed more than 2.1 million views and more than a quarter of a million 'dislikes', or downvotes.

Navalny said Vox’s video was a Russian government PR stunt to dissuade his supporters that she had received money for.[116]

In many cities, on the day of the protest, the public transport route was specially changed so that it was more difficult for people to get to the protest.

The protest actions on June 12, October 7, November 5, 2017 and January 28, 2018 were not mentioned at all on state-owned TV channels and the media.

Gallery[edit]

See also[edit]

Notes[edit]

  1. ^ On 26 March, 29 April, 12 June, 7 October, 5 November 2017 and 28 January, 5 May 2018.

References[edit]

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