Opposition supporters carried out anti-government protests nationwide on Saturday, May 5, despite warnings from the government against holding unauthorized demonstration. The rallies, held under the name “He’s not our tsar” (referring to President Vladimir Putin), took place in several major cities including Moscow and Saint Petersburg. Over 1000 people have reportedly been detained across the country. Riot police were deployed into Moscow to prevent demonstrators from gathering at Pushkin Square and arrested hundreds of people, including opposition leader Alexei Navalny. Clashes between protesters and police officers were also reported. According to media reports, around 150 people were detained in the Siberian city of Krasnoyarsk after demonstrators clashed with police. Protesters were also arrested in Yakutsk and Novokuznetsk.
Authorities detained a number of Navalny supporters on Friday, May 4, across the country prior to Saturday’s rallies. According to activists, individuals working with Navalny’s team were arrested in Tambov, Ryazan, Krasnoyarks, Saint Petersburg, Krasnodar, Cheboksary, and Kemerovo. On April 30, the Moscow district attorney’s office released a statement warning against holding unauthorized protests in the city. Additional anti-government demonstrations are planned on Sunday, May 6, prior to President Vladimir Putin’s inauguration ceremony at the Kremlin on Monday, May 7.
Official authorization is required for all protests and other large public gatherings in Russia; police sometimes use force to disperse unauthorized demonstrations. Navalny organized a number of large anti-government rallies in Moscow in late 2017 and early 2018. Putin faced no serious opposition in elections held in March 2018, easily winning a fourth term in office. Prominent opposition leader Navalny was barred from running due to previous arrests.
Individuals in Moscow, and Russia more generally, are advised to avoid any potential protests as a precaution and to adhere to all instructions issued by the local authorities.