Written by IDU member party Union of Right Forces’ Chairman Leonid Gozman.
The situation in Russia escalated sharply on January 17, 2020, when, unexpectedly for the authorities, Alexei Navalny returned to Moscow from Germany. Of all possible responses, Putin chose the worst: several dozen of Navalny’s supporters who came to meet him at the airport were arrested, the plane landed at another airport, and Navalny was immediately taken into custody. Navalny’s court appearance, which took place the next day in a context of several violations, resulted in him being jailed for 30 days and several charges being brought against him, which could result in lengthy prison terms.
On January 23, 2020, massive protests took place in Russia, comparable in number only to those that occurred in our country in 2011-2012. They were held simultaneously in almost two hundred cities, and people of different ages and different socio-demographic groups took part in them. Roughly half of the protesters who came out did so for the first time in their lives. An unprecedented number of people in Russia’s regions protested despite the fact that most of the organizers of the events had been arrested the day before.
The police behaved almost as harshly as in Minsk. Almost four thousand people were arrested in one day, and many were charged with criminal offences.
Several conclusions can be drawn from what is happening in Russia in recent days: