More Than 5,000 Protesters Arrested in Russia

Protest Russia.jpg

Navalny’s wife, Yulia, was taken into custody for a second weekend in a row for taking part in the demonstrations. Police have detained over 5,100 people and used unprecedented security measures to try and stop the protests.

Level: Intermediate

Originally published on 31 January 2021

Thousands of people joined protests in cities across Russia on Sunday to demand the release of detained opposition leader Alexei Navalny.

Police have, so far, detained more than 5,100 demonstrators, according to monitoring group OVD-Info. 

More than 1,600 were arrested in Moscow alone — including Navalny’s wife, Yulia Navalnaya, the Kremlin critic’s allies said on social media. She was also detained during last weekend’s protests.

“If we keep silent, they will come after any of us tomorrow”, she wrote on Instagram before joining the protest.

Police closed off the capital’s Lubyanka Square near the Kremlin where protesters had planned to gather at midday local time. Instead, organisers urged demonstrators to gather at another central square, but authorities cleared them from there as well.

Hundreds marched through the city chanting “Freedom!” and “Putin resign!” as riot police tried to break up the crowds. Some later went to the Matrosskaya Tishina prison where Navalny is being held. 

What the protesters are saying

Several demonstrators in Moscow said they were protesting in the hopes of achieving a better Russia with improved living conditions rather than because of Navalny himself. 

Adults are used to being told what to do, being controlled. But young people are used to organising themselves, that’s why I came here today. I want a say in what is happening in my country — I have to live here”, one young protester told DW correspondent Emily Sherwin. 

“It’s a disgrace! They’ve stolen everything from us. I live right near oil fields and they are just stealing everything from the people!” said one woman. 

"I have a two-year-old son. And if Putin stays in power for the next 16 years, as he is planning to, then my son will grow up with only him in power and I don't think anything good will come of it," said another protester.

Adapted from Deutsche Welle

New vocabulary:

  • detained – imprisoned/kept in one place

  • unprecedented – never used before

  • demand – ask strongly

  • opposition leader – the leader of the party that is not currently in power

  • Kremlin critic’s – the people who do not agree with what the Kremlin are doing

  • gather – join together/meet

  • urged – asked (but in a way that shows the action is very important)

  • chanting – shouting

  • resign! – quit your job!

  • in the hopes of – with the aim of

  • adults are used to being told what to do – for adults, it is normal that people tell them what to do

  • I want a say – I want my voice to be heard

 

Questions:

What do you think the protesters want to achieve?

Do you think they will succeed in their aims?

What other things could people do to get a say in what is happening in their country?