Dozens of protesters defied not only the authorities but also local representatives of Navalny’s own team, who said they were endangering themselves by gathering on the ice. Off the coast, the demonstrators walked in circles, in a manner resembling traditional Russian folk dancing, and chanted slogans.
© Sputnik / Vitaly Ankov
The local rescue service deployed a hovercraft, but according to local media, it malfunctioned. Several people were detained by police before the ice walk. Caught in the crossfire were a few enthusiasts of ice fishing, whose Sunday plans were disrupted by the event. Local news outlet ‘Prima’ reports that around 100 people took part, around ten times fewer than last weekend, in the city of over 600,000.
In ‘nearby’ Khabarovsk, where tens of thousands marched last summer in support of former local governor Sergey Furgal, there was a small rally in the central city square which lasted for about an hour. Just like the protest in Vladivostok, it was not sanctioned, with police responding by deploying scores of troops and calling for people to disperse. Three people were taken into custody, according to ‘DV News’ but otherwise the rally was uneventful. The same source claims 200-300 participated.
Somewhat larger protest marches took place in the Siberian cities of Novosibirsk (where early reports suggest over 6,000 may have gathered) and Irkutsk. In Yakutsk, only a handful of protesters showed up, possibly due to the temperature (around -40C) and heavy snowfall.
The main protest event is expected in Moscow. Last week, a pro-Navalny rally in the Russian capital resulted in clashes with the police and hundreds of people being arrested. The city authorities did not permit the protest this Sunday, citing the Covid-19 pandemic, but supporters of the opposition figure intend to ignore the ban, and have called on people to gather near the iconic Lubyanka building, home to the Federal Security Service (FSB).
Navalny remains in custody pending a court decision regarding his parole case. He was arrested earlier this month after returning to Russia from Germany, where he received medical treatment after an alleged poisoning, last summer. Protesters are seeking to pressure the Russian government into releasing him.
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