Anti-Putin protests break out in Russia resembling 2012; over 1,000 detained
Over 1,000 people were detained across Russia on Saturday, May 5 - two days before Vladimir Putin was set to be inaugurated for his fourth term at the helm, for showing protests against his extended stay in office.
According to Moscow Times, the latest protest is the first major one since January when Alexei Navalny, an opposition leader, had appealed for boycotting the March 18 elections after he was denied the right to contest because of a suspicious conviction which his supporters says was politically staged. It was then when thousands had resorted to peaceful protests on the streets.
Putin, nevertheless, emerged winner in the election bagging 77 per cent of the votes and he is currently the longest-serving leader of Russia since Joseph Stalin who was at the helm for 30 years.
The May 5 protests, however, turned violent unlike the previous one as thousands across the vast country marched after given a call by Navalny in April. The clashes between the protesters and the lawkeepers were most severe in Moscow, the report said.
The Moscow Times report said by the time Navalny's supporters gathered at Pushkin Square at the capital around 2 pm local time, hundreds of pro-Kremlin "volunteer" militia had already been there. They wore orange-and-black St. George's ribbons, considered the symbol of patriotism, and confronted the protesters and tore their placards that read slogans like "He is not our tsar" and "I am against corruption".
After the pro-Kremlin supporters clashed with Navalny supporters, the latter alleged that even the policemen dealt with them sternly, the report added.
Several protesters were soon arrested by the riot police though others stood ground. Later, Navalny arrived on the spot and he was welcomed with cheers. Navalny praised the protesters saying he was proud, the report added. Navalny was also detained later.
At some places, the scene turned ugly as the protesters clashed violently with the police and were beaten up mercilessly. It resembled the clashes that took place on the eve of Putin's inauguration in 2012 which saw the Kremlin beginning to crack down on an emerging opposition movement. It is said that Putin had suspected the US and especially Hillary Clinton for encouraging the protests and to avenge this, had allegedly interfered in the American presidential election of 2016.