The Russians braved the -60 degree weather conditions and police brutality to demand the release of opposition leader Alexei Navalny.
Thousands of Russians in 200 cities stretching from Moscow to Siberia braved sub-zero temperatures and police brutality during pro-democracy protests across the country on Saturday.
The protests came in response to the assassination attempt and subsequent arrest of the opposition leader Alexei Navalny, which sparked the ire of Russian citizens.
Navalny was poisoned in August last year and transferred to Germany for treatment, where doctors have confirmed that the chemical agent Novichok has been used. Navalny then helped investigate his own assassination with Bellingcat, an information medium. He is famous phoned an FSB agent involved and confessed to him.
The Leader of the Opposition returned to Russia on January 17, where he was immediately arrested. His team published another survey two days later, which allegedly shows President Vladimir Putin’s palace on the Black Sea. The investigation was accompanied by calls from Navalny to protest on January 23, which were resoundingly withheld.
There have been more than 3,000 arrests across the country, including 16 journalists, according to OVD-Info events monitoring site, the most over the past four years. It is not known how many people across the country participated, but videos and images show what appear to be tens of thousands of people on the streets.
In Siberia, people protested in the -60 degree weather.
In Irkutsk, a small town bordering Mongolia, thousands of people took to the streets.
Protesters also lined the streets of the Kremlin in Moscow.
And thousands marched in St. Petersburg.
Protesters in Moscow threw snowballs at police nearby.
But it didn’t take long for the police to use force during the protests, which had previously been deemed illegal.
A video shows a woman having her stomach kicked. According to the Mediazona news outlet, the woman suffered a concussion and was taken to hospital.
In another video, police are seen harassing a small child as the crowd yells at them to let him go.
A journalist, who was arrested and then released, recorded people being beaten on police buses.
And another video shows a woman being taken away by two men in civilian clothes.
The US Embassy in Russia tweeted in support of the protests, and the Russian Foreign Ministry later tagged the tweet “hypocrisy.”
The striking photos and videos largely show protesters uniting against the police, sometimes appealing to their conscience.
Independent of police response and government condemnation, Navalny’s organization has called for more protests next week.
“It was the first step on the road to victory”, the Anti-Corruption Foundation tweeted. “See you in a week.”