Russian media had reported days before about a protest that was being scheduled for Sunday afternoon in Moscow’s popular Pushkin Square. Protesting and the right to assembly is of course legal in Russia, except this one was not sanctioned by the mayor’s office, and therefore illegal.
Regardless, the authorities would be ready to keep the peace and maintain law and order in one of the world’s most populated cities – an arduous task. The Duran’s Alexander Mercouris analyzes how these protests and liberal opposition will fall flat with most of the Russian public, unlikely to shake their overwhelming support for Russian President Vladimir Putin, who has maintained over an 80% approval rating – and that’s according to American pollsters.
“Today’s protests, though purportedly called to protest the alleged corruption by Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev, are really intended to prepare the ground for Navalny’s heavily trailed Presidential bid in the Presidential elections next year.”
As I walked to a local church nearby for Sunday morning liturgy, police and other volunteers were already setting up barricades, making room for the dozens of buses that would fill up the streets with ОМОН (SWAT equivalent in Russia), police in full riot gear, and a helicopter swirling overhead – I decided to check in on the commotion myself.
Below is footage I personally shot this afternoon among the crowd at Pushkin Square. The police would periodically rush the crowd in order to target specific individuals, which created a stampede of people running back which almost knocked me down as I wasn’t expecting such a thing. Before I could move up, the police started to move in and clear the square of everyone. The police I interacted with were courteous but on edge as one could imagine. I can confirm however, that many people were present, only a handful of which were at the front line, likely deliberately agitating the situation.
— The Duran (@TheDuran_com) March 26, 2017
According to police estimates, approximately 8,000 protesters had gathered, dozens of which were detained, and later let go, including liberal opposition leader and organizer of the protest, Alexey Navalny.
After a few hours, riot police detained agitators and provocateurs – one of which was spotted with a handgun. Watch below: