Journalists Arrested Across Russia Amid Broader Crackdown Against Protesters

Journalists Arrested Across Russia Amid Broader Crackdown Against Protesters

Probably the most famous demonstrator arrested today was Navalny's wife, Yulia.

Police so far have detained over 260 participants in protests held in many cities across Russia's 11 time zones, according to the OVD-Info, a group that monitors arrests. Navalnaya was also detained at a similar protest in support of her husband last week.

And US Secretary of State Anthony Blinken was sharper in a statement: "The United States condemns the continued and harsh handling of peaceful protests by the Russian authorities".

"We renew our call for Russia to release those detained for exercising their human rights", he added, after Russian police detained more than 1,000 people, including 142 in Moscow.

The nationwide rallies follow large protests the previous weekend that are part of a campaign to pressure the Kremlin into freeing President Vladimir Putin's most prominent opponent.

Mr Navalny, an anti-corruption investigator who is the best-known critic of Mr Putin, was arrested on January 17 upon returning from Germany, where he spent five months recovering from nerve agent poisoning that he blames on the Kremlin. The Kremlin has repeatedly denied that Vladimir Putin is involved in the residence in any way, and pro-government media outlets have criticized Navalny's claims.

The rallies began under snowfall around 0900 GMT (5pm Singapore time) amid a huge police presence, Reuters reporters said.

AFP journalists saw dozens of protesters detained and taken into police vans. "I'm so exhausted of the complete chaos of those in power", said Evan, one of the protesters.

A day earlier, police also targeted independent journalists, detaining the editor-in-chief of Mediazona, an outlet that focuses on rights violations by law enforcement.

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Tens of thousands of Russians took to the streets of over 100 cities across the country last Saturday to protest Putin's 20-year-rule.

After police detained some protesters and drove others away from the stations, the Navalny team told people to go to the square fronted by three of the city's long-distance train stations.

Authorities have said demonstrators could spread COVID-19.

In Moscow, authorities introduced unprecedented security measures in the city centre, closing several subway stations near the Kremlin, cutting bus traffic and ordering restaurants and shops to stay closed.

In a further challenge to Putin, two days after Navalny's arrest, his organization released an extensive video report on a palatial seaside compound allegedly built for Putin.

Video footage showed protesters chanting "Putin is a thief" as they linked hands and marched on the ice in temperatures of around -13 Celsius (8.6 Fahrenheit).

Mr Navalny's team initially called for Sunday's protest to be held in Moscow's Lubyanka Square, home to the main headquarters of the Federal Security Service, which the 44-year-old claims was responsible for his poisoning. "I'm just fed up with the total lawlessness of the authorities", said Ivan, a protester who declined to give his surname.

The raids came a few days before new protests that Navalny's supporters have called for Sunday. Several, including his brother Oleg, are under house arrest. He is facing prison for years on whether his suspended sentence on fraud charges in a 2014 embezzlement case should become a jail term.

One thing I will point out about sanctions, we've seen the West imposing sanctions against Russian Federation since 2014, at least as far as I can tell, they haven't had a huge influence on President Putin's behavior.

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