Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said the case involved illegal activities. “Obviously, it is impossible to negotiate with hooligans and provocateurs,” he said on February 1.
But the real picture is different. Eyewitness accounts of the January 31 protests show that the police acted according to a premeditated plan and tried with utmost cruelty to suppress the demonstrators, the vast majority of whom were peacefully protesting the arrest of Alexei Navalny.
“The police have been given the task to suppress the protests of any price,” said the Moscow city legislature member stupinma Eugene, who was arrested during the demonstrations. “It simply came to our notice then. I think they gave the green light to commit any evil. And I think this decision was made at the highest level of the country’s leadership. “
Stupin said that when the streets leading to the city center were blocked on January 31, he decided to take the subway to the demonstration site.
“As soon as we left the metro station, the police approached me and one of my assistants and immediately took us to the police car,” he told RFE / RL.
According to Stupin, the car was already full. After they got into the car, he drove to Severnoe Tushino, a suburb of Moscow. Half an hour later they asked if there was a stupid in the car. “It looks like someone called them,” the lawmaker recalled. “I answered and the car just stopped in the middle of the street … and I was overtaken. Others were taken away. “
Stupin said he still reached the detention center to help other detainees. Most of them were accused of creating obstacles for pedestrians and transport. He said it was “legal nonsense” because, according to Stupin, “they did not interfere with anyone.”
Prominent journalist Nikolai Svanidze, a member of the Human Rights Council at President Vladimir Putin’s office, was arrested along with his wife during a protest rally in Moscow.
“I was detained on the square, directly at Sklifosovsky Hospital,” Svanidze said. “My wife and I were newcomers. There we met Alexander Verkhovsky, a colleague from the Human Rights Council. He was also with his wife. We were there as observers of the Human Rights Council. “
Svanidze recalls that two tall men came to them. “The equipment of the special forces was worn, the clothes of the so-called astronauts, with obscure inscriptions. They did not say their identities and politely but energetically shook hands with the killers and took me to the police bus … I tried to prove my identity but they did not listen and took me to the bus. I finally got on the bus with some very nice young people. “
According to Svanidze, about 20 minutes later, his wife managed to explain to one of the police officers who her husband was.
“At that moment, as if coming out of the ground, a man dressed in civilian clothes appeared,” Svanidze said. It turned out that this man dressed in civilian clothes was a high-ranking official. He quickly approached the police bus and released Svanidze.
“Everything ended normally for me, but I could not understand why I was detained at all. “Not only did they refuse to reveal their identities, but they also refused to explain why I was being arrested.”
According to Svanidze, he did not see any drunk people on the street or in the police bus and did not hear swearing. “Everyone was polite. There were some very harsh slogans against the President, but none of the insulting words were used, there was no personal insult. Personally, I have not seen cases of police brutality, but I have read about many such cases. I have only seen a huge number of detained people … From my own experience I can only ask – have all these people been arrested for any reason? ”
„Absolutely innocent Civil Persons“
Journalist and Vladimir Maxim Shevchenko, a lawmaker from the Vladimir region, was arrested during a live YouTube report in the Tatar capital, Kazan.
“The police were very aggressive,” Shevchenko said. According to him, the police suddenly appeared and started chasing the man for some time and him when he was live. Two men dressed in Shevchenko police field uniforms approached and arrested him.
“But I am quite well known in Tatarstan and several people dressed in civilian clothes came and ordered me to release them,” Shevchenko recalled. “But fate did not smile on others like that. Later, I was shocked to see a video of police in Kazan throwing people in the snow. “
According to the journalist, he does not know why the police acted in this way. “Why did the police beat completely innocent civilians?” Most likely they were acting on someone’s orders. Probably they were told that the protesters were some criminals, terrible liberals or “navalists”. But I have not seen any “navalists”. Everyone was telling me to take to the streets because they were tired of corruption, authoritarianism and lawlessness. The main issue of the protests was not Navalny. “It was because of the huge social inequality and the whole range of local and regional problems.”
According to Moscow lawmaker Stupin, police brutality may have intimidated opposition citizens, but many others have become even more “radical.”
“I think these people are outraged and may act differently in the future,” he said. “Fewer people may come out, but they will act more aggressively.”