Freedom’s Just Another Word for Criminal Hysteria the TV Should Ignore and the Police Should Quash

Russian riot police paddy wagon parked in downtown Petersburg, 11 November 2016. Photo by the Russian Reader

Putin Calls for Assessing Police Actions at Protest Rallies
Natalya Demchenko and Pavel Kazarnovsky
RBC
October 30, 2017

The president argued that instead of organizing protests, critics of the authorities should ensure their presence [sic] on the internet and in the media. He also said that “disrupting life in big cities” was wrong, but that freedom [sic] must be guaranteed.

During a meeting of the Presidential Human Rights Council, Vladimir Putin suggested analyzing the actions of law enforcement agencies vis-à-vis protesters, noting that freedom must be guaranteed. The president’s address was broadcast live by TV channel Rossiya 24.

“Freedom must be guaranteed. I completely agree with you. We must always analyze established practices in our country,” he said in reply to a question from council member Nikolai Svanidze.

According to Putin, however, “some groups of protesters” and rally organizers deliberately aggravate the situation “in order to attract attention,” whereas in order to “state their position and criticize the authorities” it suffices to secure a presence on the internet and in the media [sic].

“I can imagine that the authorities drive these protests over the hill since they have no desire whatsoever to show them up and close. But deliberately interfering with life in the big cities, deliberately triggering aggression, is also wrong. We must work with both parties to this process,” said Putin.

According to him, hysterical outbursts occur from time to time in Russia due to protest rallies.

“Outbursts happen. Look at what has been going on in the US. There are hysterics there,” noted the president.

According to him, these outbursts are a natural phenomenon. There is no need to expect complete calm.

“There never was such a thing and there never will be.”

It is necessary, however, to minimize the negative aftermath of the outbursts.

A series of anti-corruption rallies, organized by Alexei Navalny’s Anti-Corruption Foundation, were held this past March in Russia. The events were authorized [sic] by the authorities in 24 cities, although organizers advertised events in a hundred cities across Russia. The best attended rallies took place in Moscow, St. Petersburg, Novosibirsk, Yekaterinburg, Chelyabinsk, and Vladivostok.

In Moscow, a protest on Tverskaya was not agreed by the authorities, who did not propose an alternative venue to the organizers [as required by law]. Navalny thus announced that, in according with a Constitutional Court ruling, he considered the protest rally authorized and encouraged his supporters to come to Tverskaya. Consequently, according to OVD Info, over a thousand people were detained by police. (According to official police figures, the number was around 500.)

Presidential spokesman Dmitry Peskov later said the Kremlin respected people’s civic stances and the right of Russians to voice them in a manner agreed with the authorities, but the March protest rally on Tverskaya had been a provocation.

When asked why the national TV channels did not cover the anti-corruption rallies in Moscow and other Russian cities, Peskov said the TV channels showed what they considered “important and meaningful.”

Translated by the Russian Reader

There is actually no evidence the Russian authorities have any respect for such basic human freedoms as freedom of speech and freedom of assembly, as guaranteed by the Russian Constitution and the international conventions to which Russia is a signatory.

Here are the highlights of my coverage of the recent clashes between Russian protesters, many of them young people, and Russia’s “lawlessness” enforcers, encouraged by the “legal anarchy” on display once again in President Putin’s remarks earlier today, as quoted above. TRR

 

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