Russian human and media rights group OVD-Info on Sunday claimed police arrested at least 109 people during demonstrations supporting imprisoned opposition leader, Alexey Navalny. The group stated two journalists are known to be among those detained. The demonstrations in 23 Russian cities was organized by the Anti-Corruption Foundation (AFD) and coincided with Navalny’s birthday.
OVD-Info claims police began “undermining” the planned demonstrations several days in advance. Several activists were arrested or detained under house arrest. Journalists were also warned regarding covering the rallies and censorship by Roskomnadzor, Russia’s media and communications agency.
Additionally, the group claims that arrested individuals have been denied access to legal representation. Police are accused of barring entry of ADF lawyers into detention centers and have taken custody of the detainee’s phones. Section 1, Chapter 2, Article 48 of the Russian Constitution stipulates, “any person detained, taken into custody, accused of committing a crime shall have the right to receive assistance of a lawyer.”
Despite the warnings and arrests, a spokesperson for Navalny tweeted his gratitude. The tweet stated that not a single political prisoner has been abandoned in Russia. Navalny is currently serving out a nine-year sentence for parole violations, fraud and contempt of court in a Russian prison. He also faces charges of promoting and calling for terrorism, publicly calling for extremism, financing extremist activities and rehabilitating Nazism.
Russian governmental agencies and the Russian News Agency (TASS) have not yet commented on Sunday’s demonstrations or arrests.