Friday, 31 March 2017

Putin's Russia

The Guardian carried two excellent reports on the political unrest in Russia where peaceful protests are being met with intimidation, arrests and jail sentences.

Makes you wonder what lies behind Donald Trump's admiration for Vladimir Putin who is just about the only world leader whom the American President has consistently showered with praise.

A 'free press' no longer exists in Russia, of course, and the bulk of the media is now effectively under state control.

Opposition leader Alexei Navalny detained amid protests across Russia

Crowds gather in cities to protest against corruption in largest anti-government rallies for five years, with hundreds held

By Shaun Walker and Alec Luhn - The Guardian

Hundreds of protesters have been detained by riot police in cities across Russia, as some of the largest anti-government protests in years swept the country.

The call to protest came from the opposition politician and anti-corruption campaigner Alexei Navalny, who was himself detained at the Moscow demonstration. A monitoring group said at least 850 people were detained in Moscow alone, while the news agency Tass gave a figure of 500.

Alexei Navalny: Russian opposition is not deterred by Boris Nemtsov murder

Police said about 7,000 people attended the Moscow rally on Sunday, though the real number may have been much higher. The crowds surged down the length of the city’s main thoroughfare, Tverskaya. A police helicopter flew overhead and thousands of riot police were on duty across the city centre.

The size and scope of the demonstrations pose a challenge to the Kremlin, a year before elections in which Vladimir Putin is expected to win another six-year term.

Soon after arriving, Navalny was bundled into a police bus, which was unable to drive away for several minutes as crowds set upon it and tried to free him. Protesters even pushed parked cars in front of the bus to stop it moving, but were later beaten away by riot police. There were isolated clashes with riot police and shouts of “shame” and “Russia will be free”

Dmitry Medvedev: the whipping boy for Russia's discontented
The corruption allegations that led to street protests add to the air of disappointment surrounding the country’s prime minister

By Shaun Walker - The Guardian

The street protests that swept Russian cities over the weekend were remarkable not just for their unusually large size, but also for their main target: Dmitry Medvedev.

After an investigation by the anti-corruption campaigner and opposition politician Alexei Navalny alleged a network of palaces and vineyards linked to Medvedev, the prime minister has become the focal point of the protests. Angry Russians carried rubber ducks, a mocking reference to a shelter for ducks found on one of his alleged properties. 

Opposition leader Alexei Navalny detained amid protests across Russia