On Sunday, in protests planned to coincide with regional elections, 1,018 people were arrested in cities across Russia, CNN reports, with 452 people arrested in St. Petersburg alone. Police were filmed beating protesters with batons and school children and the elderly were among those arrested.
A picture of a nine year old boy being arrested quickly went viral.
The protests, in more than 80 cities and towns, were organized by supporters of Alexei Navalny, a vocal critic of Putin who was arrested last month after organizing Sunday’s protests. He is under administrative arrest for staging a protest in January that was not sanctioned by the Kremlin. Navalny urged Russians to protest a law that raises the pension age by 5 years, to 65 for men and 60 for women.
Putin’s approval ratings remain high but have been affected by widespread disapproval of the proposed law, falling to a seven year low, according to Bloomburg.
Election results demonstrated the public anger against the ruling party as gubernatorial candidates from the ruling party in four regions failed to win majorities and were forced into runoff elections. Two of those candidates won less than 32% of the vote in elections that are normally tightly controlled by the Kremlin. While Putin’s party maintained power in 17 other gubernatorial elections, candidates for parliament also were victims of public dissatisfaction.
United Russia also suffered defeats to the Communists in party-list votes for three regional parliaments. It’s the first time since 2007 that it failed to win party elections, Vedomosti reported.Bloomberg
Valery Solovei, political analyst, told Bloomberg that Sunday’s elections are a “defeat for the authorities” and believes the election results are how Putin’s falling approval ratings are manifested. Another political analyst called the “unexpected failures” for United Russia a “bombshell”.
Vladimir Putin disagrees with that assessment.
The results had some “rough edges” and they will be dealt with, Putin said during a State Council meeting on Monday in Vladivostok. Runoff votes in some areas are an “absolutely normal” event, he said.Bloomberg
Why It Matters
When Republicans shrug over the idea of Russia interfering in our elections and wear shirts that say “I’d rather be a Russian than a Democrat”, this is the Russia they are aligning with:
A KGB thug who arrests nine year old boys and old men for protesting.
A dictator who restricts opposition and jails dissenters.
An invader of neighbors.
A country who denies liberty to its own people and seeks to extinguish the flame of freedom wherever it burns.
Rather than aligning with Vladimir Putin’s murderous regime, Republicans, if they are serious about the concept of liberty, must side with the people of Russia. They deserve freedom no less than Americans do.