The opposition demonstrations in Moscow

Photo: Yuriy Kochetkov/EPA/TASS

Last weekend in Moscow were held the largest opposition protests with more than 3,500 protesters and 700 journalists attending. Activists of the Moscow NGOs said the number of protesters would be even greater if they were not dispersed by the special police units. According to Moscow Times, Russian police have arrested leading opposition politician Alexei Navalny and sentenced him to 30 days in prison for calling for these protests, although they were not allowed. According to the BBC, he spent two days in hospital because of swollen eyes and rash on his neck and shoulders. Although Russian officials described it as an allergic reaction, Dr. Navaljny said it was absurd and added that she suspected he had been poisoned by some poison. Russian state television, which is the primary source of information for many Russians, ignored the event. Private television NTV declared the opposition “losers” because, in its estimation, they attracted 100 times fewer participants than there were on the burger festival held at nearby Gorky Park over the weekend. Opposition demonstrations in downtown Moscow were irrelevant to either the TASS news agency or the state agency RIA Novosti. The US embassy in Moscow criticized the decision of the city’s authorities to end protests stating that police arrests of participants and opposition politicians are “a disproportionate police force that undermines citizens’ right to participate in democratic processes.” The European Union reacted, pointing out that “violence and attacks by police on protesters seriously undermine fundamental freedoms of expression and assembly.” The Carnegie Center, one of Moscow’s leading tink-tank organizations, said it was evident that the opposition minority in Russia was growing stronger and more active and that this was clearly of considerable concern to the Moscow and Russian state authorities.

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