Anti-corruption protests sweep across Russian cities

What do Russian students at TRU have to say about what's going on in their home country?

Police also showed up when Alexei Navalny campaigned for mayor of Moscow in 2013, where he received 27 per cent of the vote to Medvedevappointed mayor Sergey Sobyanin’s 51 per cent. (Evgeniy Isaev/CC)

Hundreds of people, including a prominent opposition figure, were arrested in Moscow on March 26 for participating in unauthorized protests, according to state media and a human rights group.

The Russian opposition side is represented by Alexei Navalny, who fights against corruption. Navalny was once featured in Time magazine with the headline, “Can this man save Russia?”

Navalny is making a push for candidacy in the upcoming presidential election in 2018. He is promoting himself in the national, as well as in international media by revealing corrupt activity by Russian political figures.

At the beginning of March, Navalny has accused Medvedev (ex-Prime Minister of Russia) of amassing a global property empire through various forms of corruption. In Navalny’s report, he claimed that Medvedev has a portfolio of assets including “huge pieces of land in the most sought-after regions, yachts, apartments in old mansions, agricultural complexes, and wineries in Russia and abroad.” Navalny’s report claims this was all purchased through “bribes from oligarchs and state bank loans.”

“Mr. Navalny is a quite famous Russian political figure. His Anti-Corruption Fund made the movie, which showed real property of ex-president Dmitriy Medvedev. The movie presented facts of the corruption in the government. Alexei Navalny used it as an impulse for the all-Russian anti-corruption meeting. However, it is not enough for serious changes in [the] Russian political arena. This meeting gathered a large number of people through the country but what will be the next step of Mr. Navalny? Negative emotions of Russian people are not enough,” says Yana Grohalskaya, TRU International student from Russia.
A lot of people around Russia did not stay indifferent to the corruption report and as a result, demonstrators attended a large-scale anti-corruption demonstration in Moscow. Around 8,000 people attended the protest in Moscow alone and similar protests were planned in 100 other cities across Russia, according to organizers.

Navalny was present at the protests and tweeted, “Today we are discussing (and condemning) corruption, not the detentions. Well, I was detained. So what. It OK. There are things in life that are worth being detained for.”

The protest drew a heavy police presence but remained largely peaceful. Riot officers flanked crowds while plainclothes officers moved among the demonstrators

“It is one of the biggest protests in Russia during the 21st century. [The people who] decided to fight against corruption deserve to be respected. [Protesters] were not afraid to go against corrupted government and they were fighting for the state they want to live in,” said Ilya Penkov, a TRU international student from Russia.

“This fact is amazing. To be honest, if I was back home in Russia, I would join the rest of the protesters.”