Russian police have cracked down hard on protestors who support opposition leader Alexei Navalny.
Video of Margarita Yudina being brutally kicked in the stomach by a police officer at a pro-Navalny protest went viral over the weekend, and now it has emerged that even snowmen aren’t safe.
Yelena Kalinina organised a "mass rally" of snowmen against President Vladimir Putin, with signs around their necks calling him a “Tsar” and commenting on the alleged billion-dollar palace the president of life has built.
Andrei Borovikov, an environmental activist from Arkhangelsk, tweeted a photo of the snowy protest, saying that the police that had been sent to break it up weren’t quite sure now to deal with it.
“Yelena Kalinina was detained for organising a mass picket of snowmen,” he wrote, adding “the cops don’t know what to do, they’re calling their bosses every other minute.”
The city is a hotbed of anti-Putin feeling, with at least 3,000 of Arkhangelsk’s 350,000 residents attending the rallies over the weekend.
Across Russia, tens of thousands took to the streets across 120 cities and there were over 4,000 arrests.
Navalny, a 44-year-old Russian politician and anti-corruption activist, is probably Putin's best-known critic.
He has recently recovered from nerve agent poisoning that many believe to be an assassination attempt by Putin loyalists. He has now been jailed under an old fraud conviction he says is was trumped up by the government.
On January 26, new US President Joe Biden spoke with Putin for the first time since taking office and reportedly confronted the Russian leader about the poisoning.
White House press secretary Jen Psaki told reporters that the US government is calling for Navally's "immediate and unconditional" release.
"I'll just reiterate our call from here on Russian authorities to release all those detained for exercising their universal rights," she said.
"We also urge Russia to fully cooperate with the international community's investigation into the poisoning of Alexei Navalny and credibly explain the use of a chemical weapon on its soil.”
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