It marks the second weekend in a row where crowds have turned out to show support for the jailed anti-corruption activist, who is currently awaiting trial for breaching the terms of a suspended sentence for fraud. However, those on the ground in many cities reported smaller numbers of demonstrators than last Saturday.
In St. Petersburg, which has seen some of the most pronounced violence over the past fortnight, a video emerged of a tense standoff between officers and protesters. After a small group of police were chased down a street off the city’s Sennaya Square, one officer, who had stumbled after being kicked by a pro-Navalny marcher, drew his service pistol.
Other clips from Russia’s second largest city showed lines of OMON troops, the country’s specialist riot police, beating their shields and pushing back waves of demonstrators. Later on Sunday, the local Investigative Committee’s press service reported that a man who had punched a police officer several times in the head had been arrested.
The Union of Journalists of Russia issued a warning after 60 media workers were detained. At least eight of those held by police were in St. Petersburg and footage showed a reporter in a fluorescent yellow ‘press’ vest being carried off to a waiting vehicle. Journalists had been asked to wear the garments to identify themselves during the events.
There had been reports that stun grenades and tear gas were used to break up the crowd in the historic city center, and one video showed protesters screaming after a loud explosion overhead. However, the Ministry of Internal Affairs denied that flashbangs or tear gas had been used, with other sources suggesting a demonstrator had thrown a firecracker.