Anti-Putin demo (#Enough) ends in dozens of arrests in St Petersburg

(Photo credit: Till Rimmele)

Today, people in St Petersburg gathered in an unauthorised demo to collect letters against Russian President Vladimir Putin

By Andreas Rossbach and Francesca Visser

According to OVD-info 110 people have been arrested today during the #Enough (надоел) demo, calling for President Putin to not seek reelection in the 2018 campaign.

The demo, organised by local NGO Open Russia, started at 2 pm at the entrance of Gorkovskaya metro station and was entirely cleared by police in less than an hour, leading to detentions citing Article 54 of the Federal Law.

“It is our right to protest as free citizens. It’s a law in the constitution, but the police will very likely break it,” said activist Lev Dmitriev, just before the police proceeded with the first arrests.

Natalya Gryaznevich, a member of the federal branch of the Open Russia movement in Russia, explained in an interview with Prospekt Magazine that today’s demo was aimed at collecting letters of complaint against President Vladimir Putin.

“The main message is that people have had enough of him after his [latest] 6 years in power,” she said.

Gryaznevich was later detained by the police, who also detained other members of the Open Russia movement.

The #Enough demo was planned in 32 Russian cities and was approved in 11 cities, although neither in Moscow or St Petersburg.

Open Russia recently launched its Open Election campaign in order to promote opposition candidates in the coming Russian presidential election in 2018. The campaign included the distribution of posters in numerous Russian cities featuring a picture of Putin, whose mouth is covered by yellow tape bearing the word “enough”. The pictures have since gone viral on Russian social media.

Banning of Open Russia

Today’s demo took place just three days after the independent political movement Open Russia was labelled an “undesirable organisation” by the Russian Prosecutor-General’s Office. The order was directed at three NGOs founded by Russian oligarch and Kremlin critic Mikhail Khodorkovsky: the UK-based Open Russia, Russian-based Open Russia, and the US-based Institute of Modern Russia.

According to the official statement, “these organisations carry out special programmes and projects in order to discredit the results of the elections held in Russia.” The activities of the organisations were further accused of being aimed at destabilising the political situation and posing a threat to the fundamentals of the constitutional system of the Russian Federation.

According to Gryaznevich, the list of undesirable organisations only includes legal entities registered abroad and the ban would therefore not affect the Russian-based Open Russia. “The only immediate consequence for the Russian-based Open Russia will be that we will have to change the logo of the organisation, as it coincides with that of the UK-based organisation,” she said.

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