The FSB, Russia’s own intelligence service, estimates that on the 23rd and 31st of January around 90,000 people took to the streets in countrywide protests. The trigger for this was the arrest and detention of anti-corruption blogger and opposition figure Alexei Navalny, an event which provided an opportunity for citizens to express long-held discontent over corruption, economic stagnation, and increasingly oppressive government.
The police response to the protests was severe. Smartphones captured the use of physical violence by police to intimidate and shut down the demonstrations. One memorable and widely shared video showed a woman approach an officer to be kicked in the stomach to the ground. Others showed batons and riot shields being used to bludgeon and beat back groups and individuals, both standing up and on the ground.
With the protests shut down, Navalny incarcerated with deteriorating health, and no clear path forward in sight, it begs the…
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