Russia protests against Putin boost Navalny and challenge Kremlin


Participants of an unauthorized protest rally against jailing of opposition chief Alexei Navalny conflict with police, on January 23, 2021 in Moscow, Russia.

Mikhail Svetlov | Getty Images News | Getty Images

Russia noticed widespread protests against President Vladimir Putin on the weekend, with demonstrations involving tens of hundreds of individuals and happening in as many as 100 cities.

Experts say the protests, primarily in assist of arrested opposition chief Alexei Navalny but additionally attracting members of the general public indignant at corruption and injustices in Russia, might be extra vital than earlier unrest.

“It’s tempting here to take the Kremlin narrative that these (protests) were relatively small scale and are not backed by the wider population — hence will go nowhere,” Timothy Ash, a senior rising markets strategist at Bluebay Asset Management, stated on Monday.

“Indeed, there have been similar protests back in 2011, in 2015 following the murder of Boris Nemtsov, and in 2019 — which all went nowhere … But something feels different this time around,” he added.

Here’s CNBC’s information to what is going on on in Russia and why it issues.

What’s happening?

Participants of an unauthorized protest rally against of jailing of oppositon chief Alexei Navalny shout, on January 23, 2021 in Moscow, Russia. E

Mikhail Svetlov | Getty Images News | Getty Images

“More than 40% of attendees were first time protesters, and demonstrations occurred in over 100 cities, including places like Sevastopol and Kemerovo, where overt anti-government activity is rare,” Daragh McDowell, head of Europe and principal Russia analyst at Verisk Maplecroft, stated.

Police reportedly detained greater than 2,500 folks within the Russian capital.

Why did protests happen?

Navalny’s detention, and an investigation right into a Black Sea residence that has been dubbed “Putin’s Palace” by Navalny’s group, are the principle components behind the protest.

Navalny was detained on Jan. 17 instantly upon his return to Russia from Germany, the place he had been handled following nerve agent poisoning final August. Putin was accused of being behind the poisoning; the Kremlin denies any involvement.

Russian opposition chief Alexei Navalny and his spouse Yulia are seen in a Pobeda aircraft after it landed at Moscow’s Sheremetyevo airport on January 17, 2021.


Navalny was accused of parole violations, however accuses the state of making trumped-up expenses against him.

What is the ‘Putin’s Palace’ video?

A lady watches an investigation into “Putin’s Palace” by Russian opposition chief Alexei Navalny in Moscow on January 21, 2021.


Navalny’s staff stated he had recorded the video earlier than his return to Russia however had instantly launched it on his detention, as they referred to as on the general public to affix protests on Saturday afternoon.

“Alexei is always fighting for our rights, and now we must fight for him. Vladimir Putin is obliged to answer for all his crimes,” his staff stated on YouTube.

Why do the protests matter?

Experts say the protests are vital, and are a ache for the Kremlin. “The protests were not huge – perhaps 40K (people) in Moscow — but they were very widespread with protests in 50-plus cities,” Bluebay Asset Management’s Ash famous.

“And remember that the turnout was against the background of widespread intimidation — arrest of opposition leaders, warnings to students they will be kicked out of schools and college, plus restrictions in social media and the internet, and very cold weather.”

He added that on-line social media movies appeared to counsel broader assist for protestors, “with cars honking horns in support and passers by critical of police brutality.”

What comes subsequent?

The protests pose a challenge for the authorities, Verisk Maplecroft’s McDowell famous.

“The images of open clashes between the crowd and the police will be a double-edged sword for the authorities. On the one hand, it makes it easier to cast the demonstrators as violent hooligans, but on the other it demonstrates the coercive power of the state is not as formidable as the Kremlin would like to portray,” he stated.

Whether the protests can keep their momentum might be key to their affect, he added. “The opposition will now seek to organise follow-up rallies and other protests to keep up the pressure on the authorities. If they fail, the 23 January protests will go down as a flash in the pan, with minimal long-term political significance.”

“However, if the opposition can maintain momentum, particularly among younger, first time protesters they will pose a longer-term threat to Putin’s hold on power, which in part rests on his reputation as a guarantor of ‘stability’.”

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