Russian prosecutors move to block online calls for protests

Russian prosecutors move to block online calls for protests

Sasha, 17, was one of hundreds of peaceful citizens detained in cities across Russian Federation on Sunday after they defied the authorities and came out in support of opposition figure and blogger Alexei Navalny who dares to challenge Vladimir Putin for the presidency next year.

One of his recent videos, a 50 minute expose accusing Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev of secretly owning an archipelago of luxury homes, has been watched more than 14 million times on YouTube. "Our topic of the day is the fight against corruption", he said (in Russian).

"If it wasn't for that fear of repression, more people would have come out", businessman Polyakov says of Sunday's rally.

Peskov, speaking Friday in a conference call with reporters, said only that Putin is ready to listen to arguments by Sokurov and other cultural figures, but doesn't always agree with their views. The state media ignored the demonstrations; the top Russian search engine, Yandex, manipulated its results to push reports of them down the page.

President Vladimir Putin's spokesman Monday chided opposition organizers for putting people's lives at risk in the unauthorized protests and defended the actions of Russia's helmeted riot police, which critics called heavy-handed. This can be clearly seen from protesters' slogans, which included "Sell palaces, build roads!" or "You ran out of money-we ran out of patience!"

The 40-year old Navalny, arguably Russia's most popular opposition leader, has been twice convicted on fraud and embezzlement charges that he has dismissed as politically motivated. "I went to the demonstration because I am against corruption", Sotnik, who studies at the Moscow University for the Humanities, told DW. He was the subject of an incriminating video put out by Alexei Navalny, an anti-corruption crusader who has said he will run against Putin in 2018. He was taken to a police station but as a minor, he could not be charged.

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Navalny's Anti-Corruption Foundation, which made the film about Medvedev, has reportedly been closed as law enforcement searches the premises. She also complained that everyone is aware of this situation but nobody is taking any measures to change it. Navalny's recent tour around the country, related to the opening of his regional campaign offices and the fact that his associates have been preparing the ground for him for some time (until recently Navalny could not travel around Russian Federation due to criminal investigations against him) have played a significant role in mobilising the protesters.

Who do the Times editors think they're kidding? It merely wishes to exploit the protests to further the agenda of that section of the American ruling class that seeks a more direct intervention against Russian Federation, including by means of military aggression, and which has come into conflict with Trump and other sections of the ruling establishment that see the main enemy as China.

As the White House condemned the arrests - "interference" that could spoil Putin's budding friendship with US President Donald Trump - the Kremlin spokesman called the protests a "provocation" and anxious that outsiders could seek to manipulate Russian youth. From Vladivostok on the Pacific coast, through major cities like Novosibirsk and Yekaterinburg all the way to St. Petersburg where the 1917 Russian revolution kicked off a century ago, the protestors marched and chanted.

Political analyst Mariya Snegova believes that young Russians took to the streets because "they are not part of the system".

"Authorities should not simply [pretend] that nothing is happening", she said.

By focusing on this question we lose sight of the fact that there is a growing group of people in Russian Federation on whom the TV has little or no influence. Many were teenagers who can not remember a time before Vladimir Putin took power 17 years ago. The Kremlin banned numerous planned gatherings but they went ahead in dozens of cities - Mr. Navalny claims 99 in total - from St. Petersburg in the west to Vladivostok near the border with North Korea.