Politics Regional

Democracy in focus: anti-Kremlin protests in Russian Khabarovsk are severely punished

“One, two, three…. eighteen,” a woman is counting outside the camera’s view. “This is a special purpose police unit,” she adds. “That’s simply awful! I hear sounds of electric strike.”

Сries for help, people lying face down and kicked with a baton by OMON troops, injured people lying unconscious near a police truck, crying women – these are the bloody results of Saturday’s anti-government demonstration in the city of Khabarovsk.

On October 10, another protest against the dictatorship of Vladimir Putin and in support of the popular local governor Sergei Furgal rocked the city of Khabarovsk. And not for the first time. The city has been experiencing months of protests provoked by the arrest of Sergei Furgal, being accused of involvement in multiple murders. The latter denies the accusation, and his supporters are of the opinion that the case is politically motivated.

Although the protests have been unsanctioned, they were previously put up with by authorities.

Unlike previous protests, this one has ended for the first time with violence. People experienced a massive beating by OMON troops.

Saturday’s crackdown has allegedly started after demonstrators began attempting to pitch tents in a central part of the city. The authorities, understating the related risks, previously avoided the use of force against those protesting in every possible way, may be fearing that the bigger audience may rise in their support. It is during Saturday’s protest a new element – tents – has been used for the first time. May be it was taken by authorities as crystallization and strengthening of protesters’ unity and determination.

For Khabarovsk protests, which have been shaking the city since July, this very flagrant event and a blatant disregard for civilian life may become an important crunch point determining the following pace of developments. Either they will calm down, or inversely – turn in something larger, capable of “setting a fire” in a bigger dimension.

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