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Russian police arrested more than 1,000 demonstrators across the country on Wednesday during rallies in support of Alexei Navalny, a local NGO reported, amid concerns over the Russian opponent’s health after he began a protest. hunger strike in prison.

In the hope of parasitizing the great annual speech Russian President Vladimir Putin, supporters of the imprisoned opponent Alexei Navalny demonstrated, Wednesday April 21, in a hundred cities.

The Russian police arrested more than 1,000 people during these rallies, said the Russian NGO OVD-Info, which specializes in monitoring rallies of opponents. Lioubov Sobol, one of the figures on Alexey Navalny’s YouTube channel, and Kira Iarmych, spokeswoman for the Russian opponent, were both taken into detention in Moscow hours before the rally. Charles Michel, the President of the European Council, said the arrests were “deplorable”.

The demonstrators gathered in the city center of the capital chanted “Freedom for Navalny!” and “Let the doctors in!”, referring to the appropriate treatment demanded in prison by the main opponent of Russian power. Alexei Navalny’s wife, Youlia, took part in the Moscow demonstration, during which her name was chanted.

Access to a square near the Kremlin had been blocked by metal barriers. A similar device was installed in Red Square, while dozens of police vans were deployed on the scene.

In the east of the country, in Vladivostok, between 200 and 300 people came to support Alexei Navalny, some waving banners that read “Freedom for political prisoners” or “No to war, repression and torture. ! “.

Less mobilization

While the opposition hoped for the most massive protests in modern Russian history, presenting them as an opportunity to save Alexei Navalny’s life, the mobilization seemed less important than during rallies held earlier this year, before Navalny was jailed.

According to the Interfax news agency, the police have identified more than 6,000 people taking part in a demonstration deemed illegal in Moscow. The opposition, via Navalny’s YouTube channel, reported a mobilization ten times greater in the capital.

Supporters of the main Kremlin critic, who has been imprisoned since February in a penal colony east of Moscow, fear for his health and demand that he receive appropriate medical treatment. Russian authorities respond that Navalny is treated like all other prisoners. They had warned that these demonstrations would be illegal.

As of next week, justice must examine a request from the Public Prosecutor’s Office aimed at classifying as “extremist” organizations linked to the opponent, which would expose all its activists to heavy prison sentences.

With Reuters and AFP

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