On Friday, A Moscow court put the brother and several allies of Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny under house arrest for two months as authorities sought to disrupt anti-government protests over the detention of the top Kremlin foe, anti-Corruption Campaigner and Protuberant Opposition leader. Earlier, all four aides of Navalny including his brother Oleg Navalny, Mr. Lyubov Soba, Dr. Anastisia and Maria Alekhina were detained for 48 hours by the local police. The detention of Navalny broke out the demonstrations across the country in more than 100 Russian cities. Russian police arrested about 4,000 protestors across the country and penalized them with fines and jail terms by the government.
The Navalny arrest attracted much attention in the Western capitals particularly United States, UK, Germany, and European Union, reacted swiftly to the Russian move and demanded the immediate release of Russian opposition leader. The sympathy and support offered by the US and other European countries put the Navalny at odds and provided the government and his opponent a reason to term him as American’s peddler. However, Russian government do not have any sufficient evidence about Navalny links with anti-state elements such as United States, therefore, government is in efforts to keep him behind the bar in a wooly court cases.
During this scuffle with the government, Navalny colleagues released a video on his YouTube channel about a luxury Black Sea Palace worth 1 billion pounds, allegedly constructed for the Russian president Vladimir Putin. The Russian government denied the allegation, having said that property is not owned by the President or any of his close aide. According to media report, the ongoing opposition protest put the Putin government in a defensive position, due to which Putin himself denied the possession of the Palace, a rare move which usually take by the top leadership on a very sensitive and important issue. However, media reported that the property is being guarded by the federal bodyguard agency FSO, which provides security for top government officials.
On last weekend, the protests were held in support of Navalny in several countries including Estonia, Bulgaria, Paris, and in different German cities such as Berlin, Brandenburg Gate, Hamburg, Dusseldorf, and Munich. A sever signal problem for cell phones and internet was experienced in several cities of the Russia. Navalny team and his supporters are excessively using social media such as twitter, Tok-tok, Instagram and Facebook for mutual contact and public mobilization campaign. These communication platforms are likely to face ban or service restrictions by the Russian government in coming days. The Navalny’s supporters are also planned for rallies on this weekend to demand his release.
The Russian government is set to abate the volume of protests in support of opposition leader Navalny. As per reports, Moscow police has informed the public to minimize movement on weekend because pedestrian’s movement would be restricted in the city center on Sunday and subway stations in the vicinity of the planned protest site would be closed. Restaurants and stores in the area has been instructed to halt their businesses on that day. Russian Interior Ministry has issued a warning to the public not to join the protests, while threating the participants for possible criminal charges in case violence occurs due to protests.
The political landscape of Russia is totally covered with cloud of doubts due to ongoing political unrest and uncertainty. Russian President Vladimir Putin termed the protestors as “terrorists” and different faction of the government hinted that United States is behind the protests. On other hand, United States also actively raising its voice to support Russian opposition to utilize the situation in its favor. United States got an opportunity to respond the alleged Russian interference in US Election 2016, in the same Coin as it got five years back. Russian government should use tactical approach to cool down the momentum and allow the opposition to exercise their peaceful political rights. The use of force and coercive measures are likely to go in Opposition’s favor instead of the government. Political victimization will give more blow to this ongoing movement and situation can turn more violent in coming days.