Arrests follow the Labour Day March in St Petersburg

Annual celebrations of Labour Day culminated in 15 arrests, during a march largely in support of United Russia

Despite heavy rains, thousands of people took to the streets of St Petersburg today to celebrate the annual march of Spring and Labour Day.

Traditionally a festivity to commemorate the class struggle, this year the march was heavily dominated by supporters of Vladimir Putin’s party, United Russia, carrying Russian flags and banners with slogans heralding the strength of the party.

The march was, however, also attended by different groups, from traditional communists, carrying portraits of Stalin and Lenin, to activist groups who came to the streets to raise awareness of different issues, varying from veganism, feminism to internet freedom. Among them, a large group demonstrated against the ban on Telegram, the messaging app that was blocked two weeks ago, after the company’s refusal to hand over encryption keys to state authorities.

Another group present at the demonstration was a nationalist group called The Slavic Power of the North-West, carrying a flag reading “enough feeding parasites”.

A total of 15 people were detained during the march. According to one of the detainees, Varvara Mikhailova, the arrests were entirely ideologically driven. Ten participants were arrested for holding flags from different countries, and three more for holding LGBT flags.

Varvara, a member of the activist group Rodina (Motherland), was arrested for holding a print featuring nine pictures of Putin in various phases of decomposition entitled “the 9 stages of the decay of the leader” (in the video below). The group marched through the streets wearing skull make-up and back clothes in a performance representing the Party of Death, to “show that the authorities are dead,” as Varvara explained from the police station in which she is currently detained.

(Credits: Alexey Belozyorov)

According to the online magazine Bumaga, also a minor was detained at the Field of Mars. The young man took part in a rally in support of internet freedom and was arrested after he reminded the authorities about Article 31 of the Russian Constitution, once the police had voiced the order to disperse.

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