Instead of the thousands of demonstrators expected, only a few hundred russians protested in moscow on sunday against the will of the police and pressure on journalists.
The future of civil society is at stake here, said the head of the russian journalists’ association, vladimir solovyov. However, instead of the 20 announced.000 attendees, only about 1600 people came to tsakharov prospect, according to the police. The reasons for the unexpectedly low response were initially unclear.
Pro-kremlin forces also came to the rally, which tends to repel the traditional audience for such events. Also the opposition platform namarsh.Ru, who reports about protests of dissatisfied people, first had the announcement on her side, but later not anymore.
The demonstration was prompted by the latest action by the russian police against the investigative journalist iwan golunov. He had been drugged by officers to take him to jail. At a spontaneous and unauthorized rally on wednesday, there were significantly more people on the street. Hundreds of people arrested.
Golunov, released tuesday after international protest, did not attend rally. He had previously said in an interview that he feared for his safety. "Anything can happen. I try to be careful," he said. The 36-year-old reporter had uncovered mafia-like and corrupt structures in the police and intelligence apparatus. Previously, the staff of the critical internet portal medusa had been threatened for months.
Russian interior ministry unexpectedly dropped drug charges tuesday and is now investigating its own officials. Golunov was now heard as a witness in the trial over the weekend, according to his lawyer.
This time, the rally in moscow under the slogan "justice for all" was not organized by the opposition, but by journalists’ associations and human rights activists. The initiators criticize the fact that such staged criminal proceedings against dissidents or even in the business world were almost systematic in russia. Members of the russian parliament announced their intention to revise the anti-drug legislation – in this case article 228.
"Instead of confronting the drug mafia, article 228 has become a tool to crack down on inconvenient journalists and social actors," said parliamentary deputy leonid lewin. He attended the rally himself. In an unusual move for russian circumstances, on thursday president vladimir putin also dismissed two police generals because of the unjustified action against golunov.