As things get dicey in Russia with the largest anti-Putin protests in over a decade, Vlad the Impaler is moving quickly to crush dissent.
Nearly 1,400 people were detained in a violent police crackdown on an opposition protest in Moscow, a Russian monitoring group said Sunday, adding that was the largest number of detentions at a rally in the Russian capital this decade.
OVD-Info, which has monitored police arrests since 2011, said the number of the detentions from Saturday’s protest reached 1,373 by early Sunday. The overwhelming majority of people were soon released but 150 remained in custody, OVD-Info and a lawyers’ legal aid group said Sunday.
Crackdowns on the anti-government protesters began days before the rally. Opposition leader Alexei Navalny was arrested and sentenced Wednesday to 30 days in jail for calling for Saturday’s protest against election authorities who barred some opposition candidates from running in the Sept. 8 vote for Moscow city council.
Navalny was unexpectedly hospitalized Sunday with a severe allergy attack, his spokeswoman said.
Kira Yarmysh said Navalny, who did not have any allergies beforehand, was taken from the Moscow jail to a hospital in the morning, arriving with severe facial swelling and red rashes. Hours later, she said Navalny was in a “satisfactory condition.”
Russian police violently dispersed thousands of people who thronged the streets of Moscow on Saturday to protest the move by election authorities. Several protesters reported broken limbs and head injuries. Police justified their response by saying that the rally was not sanctioned by authorities.
Along with the arrests of the mostly young demonstrators, several opposition activists who wanted to run for the Moscow City Duma were arrested throughout the city.
Police eventually cordoned off the City Hall and dispersed protesters from the area, but thousands of demonstrators reassembled in several different locations nearby and a new round of arrests began. Russian police beat some protesters to the ground with wide truncheon swings while others tried to push the police away.
Police said the protesters numbered about 3,500 but aerial footage from several locations suggested at least 8,000 people turned out.
Dmitry Gudkov, an opposition figure who was barred from running for city council office in Moscow, was detained Sunday afternoon as he delivered food to some of the Moscow protesters still in jail.
Worse, it looks like Navalny's "allergy attack" was a Putin poison special.
Russian opposition activist Alexei Navalny was hospitalized Wednesday for an "allergic reaction," following his arrest during mass protests against election authorities in Moscow, according to his spokeswoman. Navalny's personal doctor later wrote on Facebook that she does not believe he is suffering from an allergic reaction, but the effects of "undefined chemical substances."
Why it matters: Navalny is an anti-corruption lawyer whose fierce opposition to Vladimir Putin has caused him to be arrested and jailed by Russian authorities a number of times. Navalny's spokeswoman says he has never had an allergic reaction in his life, raising questions about whether his illness could in fact be the product of political retaliation. Putin has been accused of poisoning or having political opponents assassinated in the past.
Police reportedly did not want Navalny to be transported to the hospital, and relented only when the ambulance crew threatened to make a scene, according to Navalny's spokeswoman.
About 20 journalists who showed up at the hospital where Navalny is being treated have been detained by police, according to Russian media.
Of note: The "allergic reaction" is not Navalny's first physical ailment resulting from his advocacy. In 2017, a chemical attack on his face caused him to lose 80% of his vision in one eye, per his website.
Putin certainly isn't above murdering or harming critics. And once again, Trump is watching and taking notes.