July 28, 2019; Vox
More than 1,300 people were arrested in Moscow on Saturday as the largest “unsanctioned” protest in a decade encountered a violent police response. The mostly young crowd was protesting the blocking of 30 city council candidates from the ballot. Around 8,000 gathered at the mayor’s office shouting, “Russia will be free!”
Police used truncheons to beat back protesters around the mayor’s office in central Moscow, resulting in reports of broken bones and head wounds among the demonstrators. The US Embassy in Moscow said Sunday that the strong response represented “use of disproportionate police force.”
It is worth noting that some of the leaders of the protest were jailed for calling for the event in much the same way as has been proposed for pipeline protestors in some US states. Activist Alexei Navalny was arrested Wednesday and sentenced to 30 days in jail for calling people to the protest.
Ella Pamfilova, head of the electoral commission said the protests would not lead to the commission reversing its decision: “It doesn’t matter, not even a bit of it,” she said. Council elections will be held as planned on September 8.
And Tatyana Stanovaya, a Carnegie Moscow Center analyst, told The Independent she doesn’t see Putin’s government yielding to protesters no matter how large demonstrations grow.
“Putin has made it clear that there will be no concessions to the unsanctioned opposition,” Stanovaya says. “He doesn’t consider them politicians. He thinks they are westernized gangsters trying to take over the state.” Likewise, in the United States, the president has doubled down on overtly racist taunts to defend against what he sees as subversion of his goals.
Meanwhile, pro-democracy protests in Hong Kong continue with multiple arrests, even after two months of increasing state violence and two straight days of tear gas. In the United States, all across the country crowds protested outside of detention and ICE facilities decrying the violent response to those seeking sanctuary in this country.
This, of course, follows the protests last week that successfully saw Puerto Rico’s governor resign.—Ruth McCambridge