More Than 1,600 Detained During Pro-Navalny Demonstrations in Russia

More than 1,600 people were detained in towns and cities across Russia on April 21 as multiple demonstrations took place in support of Kremlin critic Alexei Navalny, human-rights watchdog OVD Info reported.

At least 26 of those detentions took place in Moscow, while more than 700 occurred in St Petersburg, the city where President Vladimir Putin launched his political career, the watchdog said.

This footage from Navalny team members in Moscow shows thousands of demonstrators marching through the city, chanting slogans against Putin, and calling for doctors to be allowed to see Navalny in prison.

As the protests were ongoing, Navalny’s Moscow team said one of their local employees, Alexander Shepelev, had been detained along with his girlfriend, Mediazona journalist Olya Romashova. Romashova reported that police had entered their apartment, and that Shepelev was beaten by officers as they demanded the password to his phone.

Romashova was one of several Mediazona journalists detained on Wednesday, according to the Mediazona website, while Team Navalny said both current and former members of local coordinating teams were detained in various cities, including Yekaterinburg, Yaroslavl, Murmansk, and Saratov.

Navalny, who was in his third week of a hunger strike at a prison in the Vladimir region, east of Moscow, was reported to be in rapidly deteriorating condition. Russian authorities refused to allow Navalny’s personal doctors to see him, and claimed the opposition leader, who has accused Putin’s government of attempting to assassinate him using the nerve agent Novichok, was receiving adequate medical care.

The widespread protests were called for by Navalny’s team, and timed to begin as Putin delivered an address to the Federal Assembly in Moscow. Several members of the team were detained before the protests began, including Navalny’s press secretary, Kira Yarmysh, and lawyer Lyubov Sobol. Credit: @teamnavalny_mos via Storyful