Saturday, April 30, 2022

Arrests for Anti-War Protests Approach Scale of Arrests for Pro-Navalny Demos Last Year

Paul Goble

            Staunton, April 19 – Since Putin’s expanded war in Ukraine began on February 24, 15,434 participants in Russian anti-war actions have been detained and charged, a figure that approaches the 17,600 Russians who were arrested during the 2021 demonstrations in support of anti-Putin leader Aleksey Navalny.

            And like the earlier protests, the anti-war ones have spread across the country, as shown in a new map published by the 7x7 news agency. Since February 24, only seven of Russia’s more than 80 federal subjects have not seen people arrested for demonstrating against Putin’s war (

            The news agency does not provide any information on the extent to which the same people have taken part in both or whether those in the anti-war actions are drawn from a different category of the population. If they aren’t, that would have one meaning; if they are, it would have quite a different one.

            Instead, it focuses on something else: the ways in which prosecutors and courts have further streamlined the process of convicting those arrested for anti-war actions, reducing the time that judges give to individual trials and having prosecutors bring multiple charges so that defendants and their lawyers can’t easily defend against them.

            Lawyers say that the Russian judicial system is treating the anti-war activists more harshly than it did the Navalny demonstrators, a reflection of a general toughening of the legal system in Russia rather than a political statement about the relative importance of the two protest movements.

            7x7 also reports one detail that shows how the war is affecting the Russian judicial system: Courts in many cases are now publishing their decisions on both sides of sheets of paper rather than as they have historically done on only one. That is a reflection, lawyers say, of the fact that sanctions mean the courts are running out of paper.

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