Anti-Putin Snowman Protest Leads to Russian Activist’s Detention

An activist in northern Russia has been detained for organizing a «mass rally» against President Vladimir Putin using snowmen she built, a fellow activist said Wednesday.

A photo shared by Arkhangelsk activist Andrei Borovikov shows four snowmen holding up anti-Putin placards. One of them references the billion-dollar palace that jailed opposition leader Alexei Navalny claimed belongs to the president in a viral investigation.

“Yelena Kalinina was detained for organizing a mass picket of snowmen,” Borovikov, Navalny’s former Arkhangelsk office coordinator, wrote on Twitter.

“The cops don’t know what to do, they’re calling higher-ups every other minute,” he added.

Local media later reported that police tore down the snowmen’s placards (one of which read “Down With the Tsar”) and filed a report against Kalinina.

Kalinina’s tongue-in-cheek picket follows Saturday’s nationwide rallies in support of Navalny that gathered tens of thousands and led to nearly 4,000 detentions across 120 cities. Several participants face felony charges for allegedly attacking authorities, blocking traffic and violating coronavirus health guidelines.

Around 3,000 out of Arkhangelsk’s 350,000 residents attended the rallies in one of Russia’s northernmost cities.

Navalny was jailed under an old fraud conviction he says is politically motivated following his Jan. 17 return to Russia from recovery for nerve agent poisoning he blames on the Kremlin.

Putin, who has acknowledged that Russian security agents had been tailing Navalny as a national security threat for years, denied this week that the alleged palace belongs to him.

Anti-Putin protest in Russias far east attracts thousands for a fourth weekend

Thousands of people have marched in the Russian far eastern city of Khabarovsk for a fourth consecutive weekend in protest at Vladimir Putin’s handling of a local political crisis.

Residents of Khabarovsk, around 3,800 miles (6,110km) and seven time zones east of Moscow, are unhappy about the 9 July detention of Sergei Furgal, the wider region’s popular governor, who was arrested on murder charges he denies.

His detention, which his supporters say was politically motivated, has triggered weeks of street protests, creating a headache for the Kremlin which is trying to tackle a sharp drop in real incomes as a result of the coronavirus outbreak and keep a lid on unrest as the economy stutters.

Sheltering from sporadic rain beneath umbrellas, protesters chanted “Freedom!”

One banner read “Russia without Putin” while protesters chanted “Putin resign!” outside a government building on Saturday.

City authorities estimated around 3,500 people had taken part in the march. Some local media put the number above 10,000, but said the crowds were smaller than previous weeks.

The protests have highlighted anger among some in the far east over what they see as policies emanating from detached Moscow-based authorities who have neglected them for years.

“The government doesn’t think of us as people, we’re scum to them,” one female pensioner protester said.

“We live at the edge of the world. This is the richest country … but we live in poverty and we pensioners have to work.”

Supporters of Mr Furgal, who is a member of the nationalist LDPR party, say he is being punished for defeating a candidate from the ruling pro-Putin United Russia party in 2018. The Kremlin says Mr Furgal has serious charges to answer.

Sustained demonstrations are unusual for Russia’s regions, as is a lack of response from the authorities to break them up.

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