Navalny’s supporters called for demonstrations across Russia on Sunday ahead of a court ruling, which could lead to the imprisonment of the most prominent opponent of the Kremlin for more than three years.
Navalny, 44, was arrested upon his return from Germany on January 17 and placed in pretrial detention, after five months of convalescence he spent in Germany, as a result of his supposed poisoning accusing the Kremlin of being behind him.
He called on his supporters to go to demonstrations in various Russian cities at the end of last week, and published an investigative investigation for two hours about a luxurious Putin-owned palace on the Black Sea, in order to urge his supporters to go out to demonstrate. The demonstrations led to the arrest of a large number of people.
Yesterday, however, Putin denied any connection with this property, which appeared in Navalny’s tape, which received nearly 86 million views. “I did not see this film because of time constraints,” Putin said during a video interview with Russian students broadcast on television. “Nothing that appeared (in the report) as my property belongs to me or my relatives, and it was never like this.”
The Navalny Report – the most watched anti-corruption movie so far – indicates that the palace is worth $ 1.35 billion and includes all the luxury requirements from an underground skating rink to a casino.
“Within the law”
On Saturday, more than 20,000 people participated in these demonstrations in Moscow, which is a record for several years for unauthorized activity, but mobilization was also massive in more than a hundred Russian cities, usually less inclined to mobilize.
Navalny’s team called for a new day of demonstrations next Sunday.
Leonid Volkov, a close ally of the imprisoned opposition, wrote on Twitter: “On January 31 at 12:00 pm. All the cities of Russia. For Navalny’s release. For freedom for all, for justice.”
He explained that this date was chosen, because it is closest to February 2, the day Navalny appeared before a Moscow court, which is supposed to decide whether the suspended sentence of 3.5 years imprisonment issued against him in 2014 will be converted into a prison sentence with the enforcement of an offense Conditions of judicial control over it.
Volkov stressed that if the number of demonstrators is large, “our demands will arrive stronger.”
Saturday’s demonstrations witnessed clashes between police and demonstrators, of whom 3,700 were arrested, according to a non-governmental organization.
Yesterday, Putin said that Russian citizens have the right to express their views but must do so “within the framework of the law.”
On Monday, a Moscow court issued the first prison sentence against a demonstrator for a period of ten days.
Putin also added that minors should not be encouraged to participate in unauthorized gatherings, in reference to the authorities ’allegations that the opposition encouraged young people to demonstrate.
“This is what the terrorists do. They put women and children in the front row,” he said.
Protest against internet companies
On Monday, the Russian Foreign Ministry repeated its accusations to US diplomats of encouraging Russians to participate in the demonstrations, saying that it had lodged a “strong protest” with the US ambassador.
This comes after the Kremlin spoke about similar accusations, noting that the US embassy is interfering in Russian internal affairs by publishing the points of the demonstrations before the start of the gatherings.
A spokeswoman for the American embassy told “Agence France-Presse” that “this is a routine procedure” for diplomatic missions to issue messages for the safety of their citizens abroad.
In addition, the spokeswoman for the Russian Foreign Ministry, Maria Zakharova, said that the US ambassador in Moscow John Salivan met with Deputy Foreign Minister Sergey Ryabkov, who informed him of the Russian “strong protests”.
In her interview on Russian TV, which was published by Russian news agencies, the Russian spokeswoman accused the Internet giant companies of “interfering” in Russian internal affairs.
“We are working very seriously on the way in which US internet platforms have participated in the US interference in our internal affairs,” she said.
Social media, especially Instagram, YouTube and the Chinese application, TikTok, have become in Russia a space for protest called calls to demonstrate.
In response to the supportive content of Navalny, the Russian Communications Authority “Roskomndzor” last week threatened social networks with imposing fines on them in order to protect those under the age of 18 years.
Navalny’s arrest has drawn widespread condemnation in the West, where the European Union has said it is looking into possible sanctions.
European diplomats said that the European Union will send its High Representative for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy Josep Borrell to Moscow on the background of the Navalny arrest case.