Mila Yarovaya, Co-Editor in Chief
The past month has seen an escalation in the politics of the Russian protest and opposition movement both from the side of the activists and the government. At the beginning of the month, opposition leader Alexei Navalny declared a hunger strike after the authorities’ denial to allow him to be examined by civilian doctors — a constitutional right. Following the inaction of prison officials, Navalny’s supporters called for a protest, with thousands of people taking to the streets all over the country on Wednesday March 21st. The protest in Moscow was noted for the unusually civil response of its police forces and national guard, who arrested a record low number of individuals and exhibited little violence compared to protests held in the city during January of the same year. However, protestors in St. Petersburg — Russia’s so-called “northern capital”, were faced with an unusually high amount of violence, police beatings, and arrests – according to OVID-Info, over 800 individuals were detained by the close of the night. In total, 1984 individuals were detained over the course of the protests. Independent doctors have since been allowed to see Navalny and he has lifted his hunger strike. Furthermore, the Anti-Corruption Fund founded by Alexei Navalny, as well as his network of national campaign offices have since been accused of extremism by the Moscow prosecutors and their operations were suspended. If the groups are labelled as “extremist”, all their activity will be deemed illegal and they will be forced to cease operations within the Russian Federation. The headquarters of student-run journal “DOXA” — founded by the students of the Higher School of Economics in Moscow — have been raided earlier in the month and its editorial team placed under investigation for incitement of extremism following their support of Alexei Navalny. Their trial is still pending.
Editorial note: We stand in solidarity with freedom of speech of student publications.