Aleksandr Prokhanov: ''Yesterday's protest was the subject of my sad reflections...''
Seven facts about the recent protests
Wave of corruption protests swept Russia on 26 March. Political rallies, which covered about hundred of cities, has been the largest since the Bolotnaya protests in 2011-2012. Despite the fact that in most cities the rallies were not agreed with local authorities, the police in the regions limited itself to arrests of the organizers. However, in Moscow, the authorities acted severely.
1. Angry citizens came out to the streets
Wave of protests across Russia took place on Sunday. Despite the fact that formally they were under the flag of campaign headquarters of Alexey Navalny and his investigation of corruption in the higher echelons of power (there were symbols of the protests — sneakers and ducks), they gathered not only ''professional opposition'' but rather angry citizens. For example, in St. Petersburg, the transfer of St. Isaac's Cathedral has played consolidating role here (now there is no doubt in an imminent resignation of Poltavchenko). According to some experts, St. Petersburg became the capital of the main protests. Clearly, this was also added by the fatigue of the inhabitants of the country with corruption.
2. The most massive for the last 5 years
Most of the political scientists and the agency Bloomberg agree that it has been the largest Russian national campaign since the Bolotnaya protests in 2011-2012 when in response the authorities held a rally of the supporters on Poklonnaya Hill.
The rally in St. Petersburg gathered about 10.000 people. Photo: Olga Maltseva (AFP)
This time the protests in Moscow have been, perhaps, less massive, but they covered more cities. According to the official data, the protests on 26 March in Moscow gathered 7.000-8.000 people, according to witnesses — 15.000 people, according to the Anti-corruption Foundation — up to 25.000 people. In St. Petersburg, the protest gathered about 10.000 people. In other cities — from 300 to 3.000 participants. About 100 cities participated in the action.
3. School students on the stage
One of the features was the participation of young people in almost all cities. Observers and participants noted that high school students and junior students participated in the protest. It is no coincidence that one of the main materials of Kommersant was published with the title ''Protest school years''. By the way, in Nizhny Novgorod the police even drew up protocols to the parents of underage participants.
4. Unsanctioned actions
Out of hundreds of cities, the rallies were agreed only in 24 of them. However, the municipal authorities in many cities had a clear slip with coordination of the rallies. For example in Kazan, where the executive committee denied approval of the action, but city officials did not provide an alternative site. In the end, the Vakhitovsky District Court of Kazan had to declare the refusal to hold the rally illegal. The decision of the city authorities was not revised up to 26 March. This ban, if to believe the reports of my counterparts, irritated the security forces themselves, who accompanied the action.
One of the features was the participation of youth in almost all cities. Photo: Marat Khammatov (Tomsk.ru)
5. Sunday snow cleaning
One of the reactions of the local authorities to the rallies was the snow cleaning in places of holding. Snow removal equipment in the midst of rallies were seen, for example, in Omsk and Kazan.
6. Carefulness of local government: quite forwarding to the police in the regions
Conducting of the unsanctioned actions resulted in the detention of the organisers. However, no rally in the regions was dispersed. After the beginning of the first rally in the Far East, in the media there began to appear reports of mass detentions. However, in most regions, in fact, there were no mass detentions. In Vladivostok, there were detained about 20 people; in Komsomolsk-on-Amur 6 people were brought to a police station, in Yekaterinburg — 11 people. The police detained mostly only the organisers of the rallies.
Detentions of the organisers took place in Tatarstan either. In Naberezhnye Chelny, Dmitry Teterin, Raushan Valiullin, Marat Latypov and Aleksander Golyshev were brought to the police station, and in Kazan — the leader of the Tatarstan branch of the party Parnas Marsel Shamsutdinov and the representative of Navalny headquarters Elvira Dmitrieva. The latter managed to leave the place of the rally when a car with unmarked police or Russian Guard signs started to follow her. After when the car, where Dmitrieva was, stopped, she was detained by people in masks.
In St. Petersburg, the action was quite peaceful, however, there were much more detainees — 131.
In Kazan — the leader of the Tatarstan branch of the party Parnas Marsel Shamsutdinov and the representative of Navalny headquarters Elvira Dmitrieva were detained. Photo: Maksim Platonov
7. Attack on security forces
Against this background, actions of the police in Moscow seem to be particularly harsh. People had been detained even before the beginning of the action, including the police detained Alexey Navalny himself. In total, the police and the Russian Guard detained about a thousand people. Even people who were just standing in the crowd were detained for disobeying the government's request. Some ordinary passers-by were also punished. Mass media has spread a photo of a girl who was being taken in the hands by a few officers of Russian Guard. In the interview with Medusa magazine, the girl told that she was just walking by with her mother and sister, and mother only asked why a young guy was hard-twisted.
At the same time, not everything was so smooth from the protesters' point of view. In Moscow, one of the officers received a blow on the head and was taken to hospital with traumatic brain injury. According to information from social networks, aggression upon a police officer took place in Volgograd. It is known that criminal case under article 317 of the Criminal Code of Russia (encroachment on the life of a law enforcement officer) was initiated against the assailants in Moscow, and also under the article 282 of the Criminal Code (extremism) to the head of Navalny headquarters Leonid Volkov.