Navalni calls for the protests to continue despite the wave of arrests: “They will not intimidate us, we are the majority” | International



Alexéi Navalni will remain in the 30 days of preventive detention to which he was sentenced. Days after tens of thousands of people demonstrated in more than a hundred Russian cities to demand their release, a judge on Thursday rejected the appeal that the opposition leader had presented, so he will remain in jail at least until the next trial, charged with violating the terms of his probation when he was transferred to Germany to recover from the poison attack he suffered in the summer in Siberia that almost cost him his life. Navalni urged citizens to continue protesting despite the wave of arrests and intense pressure on his collaborators. “They will not be able to intimidate us, we are the majority,” he remarked during the hearing, held in a Moscow jail.

Arrested upon his return from Berlin, Navalni faces a sentence of more than three years in a penal colony. The dissident, who denounced the obstacles he has to access his lawyers and who described this latest judicial process as a political persecution, will appeal the decision before all instances, including the European Court of Human Rights, as announced by one of his lawyers this Thursday. “This blatant anarchy is done to scare me and everyone else,” he said. “The judges here are only obedient slaves, this is done by the people who have stolen in our country,” said the opponent from the famous Matrosskaya Tishina prison, where he is in isolation due to the imposition of the authorities alleging the coronavirus pandemic.

In an aseptic room and through the computer screen, Navalni learned through his lawyers of the latest battery of raids, searches and arrests against his allies, this Wednesday night; including his brother, Oleg, and his number two, lawyer Liubov Sobol. They all face charges of violating coronavirus restrictions at public events during Saturday’s protests, carrying a maximum penalty of three years in jail. “It is like a hostage situation,” criticized the prominent opponent, who is accused of committing large-scale fraud, in addition to violating the terms of that controversial sentence of six years ago that the Strasbourg Court considered “arbitrary and manifestly unfair.”

The anti-corruption organization led by the dissident has urged citizens to demonstrate again this Sunday, in an attempt to keep up with the Kremlin. In the demonstrations last Saturday, more than 4,000 people were arrested. “Only them [los manifestantes] they are the last barrier to prevent those in power from stealing everything. They are the true patriots ”, Navalni claimed during the hearing, which he took advantage of as the first live window abroad for 10 days to address the Russians.

Kremlin spokesman Dmitri Peskov declared Thursday that the new wave of searches and arrests are legitimate. “The law enforcement agencies are doing their job,” he said. “There were numerous violations of the laws.”

The pressure from the authorities is also increasing on social networks, whom they accuse of stirring up the protests. The Russian Prosecutor’s Office has issued new warnings to Facebook, Google, Twitter, TikTok and Russian social networks on Thursday and has demanded that they block the contents that call for more mobilizations in support of Navalni. “The State does not want social networks to become a platform to promote this type of illegal action,” the Kremlin spokesman has defended.

And in another blow against one of Navalni’s rising barns of supporters, the youngest, authorities have opened administrative cases against 173 mothers and fathers whose minor children participated in Saturday’s protests.


elpais.com