The Russians braved the -60 degree temperatures and police brutality to demand the release of opposition leader Alexei Navalny.
Thousands of Russians in 200 cities from Moscow to Siberia braved freezing temperatures and police brutality in 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 aroused 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, a media. He is famous phoned an FSB agent involved and tricked him into a confession.
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 demonstrate on January 23, which were heard resoundingly.
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 demonstrated in -60 degrees.
In Irkutsk, a small town on the border of Mongolia, thousands of people filled the streets.
Protesters also lined the streets of the Kremlin in Moscow.
And thousands of people marched in St. Petersburg.
Protesters in Moscow threw snowballs at nearby police officers.
But it didn’t take long for the police to use force during the protests, which were previously considered illegal.
A video shows a woman being kicked in the stomach. According to the Mediazona outlet, the woman suffered a concussion and was taken to hospital.
In another video, police are seen harassing a small child as the crowd screams for him to be released.
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 U.S. Embassy in Russia tweeted in support of the protests, and the Russian Foreign Ministry later called the tweet “hypocrisy”.
The striking photos and videos largely show protesters ganging up against the police, sometimes appealing to their conscience.
Undeterred by the police response and the government’s condemnation, Navalny’s organization called for more protests next week.
“It was the first step on the road to victory”, the Anti-Corruption Foundation tweeted. “To see again in a week.”