All across Russia, thousands of citizens protested against Putin and his corrupt regime yesterday. In Moscow, the opposition came to protest in the center of the city, to an area from which they were banned by the Mayor’s office.
Yesterday, June 12, was “Russia Day”, a holiday marking the country’s independence from the USSR. Various municipalities across the country had organized outdoor events to mark the occasion. Opposition leader Alexey Navalny—the man who had pulled together the large street protests against corruption that had roiled Russia in late April—seized the opportunity and directed his followers into the streets. They were told to patriotically raise their voices about the direction the country is taking under Putin. Many protesters took Russian flags.
Navalny himself got detained as he was leaving his house in the morning; he was charged with organizing illegal protests, and arrested for thirty days. There were a lot of students among the protesters, including those from top Russian universities. Asked if they were not scared of being arrested, the refrain seemed to be, “It’s better to spend fifteen days in jail, than another twenty years in poverty.” As many as one thousand people got arrested across the country.
As you might imagine, Moscow’s downtown ended up being a jumble of indifferent citizens, Putin supporters, protesters—and a lot of National Guard security forces. A group of young independent filmmakers (Sota Vision) captured a moment that perfectly sums up not just what it was like yesterday in Moscow, but also what it’s like living in Russia these days. This is the reward you get for going out of your way to praise a dictator.