On the morning of January 23rd, the neo-liberal, pro-Western opposition in Russia launched protests demanding the release of its formal leader, Alexey Navalny, from the detention and seeking to pressure the government for setbacks in its foreign and internal policies.
In the beginning of the day, they were focused in Russia’s Far East, while later protests are expected to gain more strength in Moscow and Saint Petersburg.
A few photos from Moscow where police forces are preparing to contain provocations:
В Москве полиция огородила всю Тверскую от Пушкинской до Манежной — в том числе прилегающие переулки. По окрестностям дежурит ОМОН и полиция, видно очень много автозаков
Фото: Открытые медиа pic.twitter.com/cob9hpDEbb
— Znak.com (@znak_com) January 23, 2021
Police detain violent protesters in Moscow:
As it was expected the protests in regions, so far, have a relatively small turnout, as the videos from throughout show.
There is a livestream of what is taking place in Tomsk, for example:
It is expected to have a much bigger turnout in Moscow and Saint Petersburg, because the core supporters of the Russian-based pro-Western and neo-liberal opposition are focused in these two cities.
Despite the low turnout, there are obvious attempts at provocations and staged violence. The numbers of detentions are quite low and they are mostly due to individuals attempting to provoke violence or attempting to organize an unsanctioned protest.
This is all taking place while MSM is presenting the protests as a sort of “revolution” in Russia.
Attempt to cause some violence in Vladivistok:
Even the Polish-controlled propaganda network, Nexta Live, which was quite active in attempting to drive the protests in Belarus is reporting on the matter, trying to call for “breakthrough.”
“Mass protests against the illegal detention of Alexei Navalny will be held today in Russia
His investigative film about the main corrupt official in Russia – Vladimir Putin – has collected over 60 million views in just a few days! Most Russians had no doubts that impunity for the authorities could no longer be tolerated. Today all of Russia will take to the streets to say to the authorities their loud “NO!”,” Nexta Live reported.
There is also a video of a police officer speaking to children, since a tool of the neo-liberal opposition in Russia is to use TikTok, Twitter and other social media to attempt and rally 14–16-year-old children to take part in the protests and stage violent provocations.
Children’s Ombudsman Anna Kuznetsova said that in Vladivostok children were used as a human shield by protesters that were attacking Police.
“Now I know everything about human meanness. Vladivostok. Children are a living chain. Because of their backs, adults throw traffic cones at the riot police and hide again. Who are these people? Are they people?” she wrote on Facebook.
A police officer convinces minors to leave the protest event:
Another group of ‘Navalny supporters’. A boy says that he is 12yo.
In some cases, the videos also show that there are actually more journalists, bystanders and police officers than actual protests.
In response to attempting to recruit children, stage violent provocations and provoke violent protests, the Russian Investigative Committee and the Supreme Court generally supported an idea of the recently proposed bill to punish the inflicting of children and adolescents in illegal protests.
The document prepared by Russian MP Yevgeny Marchenko proposes to introduce instead of administrative criminal liability in the form of imprisonment for up to five years for involving minors in illegal rallies and up to ten years for inciting them to organization of mass riots.
“The draft law is conceptually supported,” the Investigative Committee response says. The Supreme Court added that there is a “remark of a legal and technical nature” to the document. According to Marchenko, the bill is currently being considered by the government.
Essentially, fines for involving teenagers in illegal rallies were proposed to be replaced by prison terms.
According to the current legislation, the involvement of minors in participation in unauthorized actions and processions is punishable by fines: for citizens – 50 thousand rubles, for officials – 100 thousand rubles.
Marchenko offers up to five years in prison as punishment for involving minors in illegal rallies and up to ten years in prison for persuading them to organize mass riots.
As the MP noted, not only adolescents themselves suffer because of these crimes, but also their families, parents and teachers: they are often the ones who bear administrative responsibility “for failure to fulfill their obligations to support and educate minors.”
The Russian neo-liberal opposition has once again demonstrated that it is ready to use any dirty tricks and even use children for its own political purposes. The leaders of these pro-Western groups are in fact not associate themselves with the Russian state and the Russian nation and use populist and anti-government rhetoric just as a tool of serving interests of their foreign sponsors as well as increasing their own wealth.
All of these provocations, go hand in hand with a large-scale manipulation campaign in social media, with YouTube and other mainstream platforms artificially promoting pro-opposition content and trying to involve more and more people.
The Russian government’s response is such that it has signaled that no illegal activity involving minors and such provocation will be accepted and there would be active movements to punish the responsible persons. Nonetheless, the protests are unlikely to stop, and the attempts at stirring controversy will continue. Therefore, more active measures in the sphere of media politics and containing increasing destabilization attempts will be needed. It is, however, unclear if the Russian government is prepared to undertake any such steps.
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