The Russian authorities have denied opposition leader Aleksei Navalny permission to hold a march in central Moscow on June 12, the same day as Russia Day celebrations. The city security department stated that holding the march on the major Tverskaya and Okhotny Ryad streets would disrupt Russia Day celebrations. Navalny stated that the authorities are only providing permission for the march to be held in remote locations, such as a forest outside of Syktyvkar. According to Navalny, demonstrations will be held in 212 cities throughout Russia regardless of whether or not they are authorized. Clashes between protesters and police are possible.
Navalny is the main political opposition figure in Russia, gaining popularity after revealing proof of government corruption on his blog and criticizing President Vladimir Putin publicly after beginning a third term in 2012. He has announced that he intends to oppose Putin in the 2018 presidential elections. Navalny and hundreds of other demonstrators were arrested in anti-corruption protests that brought tens of thousands of people to the streets of cities across Russia on March 26. These were the largest coordinated protests in Russia since 2012 and, in central Moscow alone, some 700 protesters were allegedly arrested for participating in the event. Navalny spent 15 days in prison following the protests. Police and military security personnel responded to the protests in Moscow and elsewhere with barricades and tear gas; some violent clashes between police and protestors were reported in the capital.
Individuals present in Russia are advised to avoid all demonstrations as a precaution. Travelers should be aware that large public gatherings in Europe have been targeted by terrorist attacks in recent years; remain vigilant and report suspicious activity to the relevant authorities.