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His conscience drove him, says Ruslan Agibalov: The Russian policeman now has to atone for his video message in support of the imprisoned opposition activist Alexej Navalny.
Russian police officer:
A Russian police officer has been fired after showing his solidarity with the detained Kremlin critic Alexei Navalny in an internet video. Ruslan Agibalov from the city of Kursk, around 450 kilometers south of the capital Moscow, had published the clip “in support of Alexej Navalny and all political prisoners” before major nationwide protests at the weekend.
He was afraid that his children would at some point ask him: “Dad, what have you done to ensure that we can live in a free, prosperous country?” Says Agibalow, among other things. “And then I have no answer.”
The police officer asked that his words not be taken as a call to the protests by Navalny supporters, which took place across Russia on Saturday. Nevertheless, he was released a little later, as the Kursk department of the Interior Ministry announced. The police officer had soiled the honor of his authority, it was said as a reason.
According to the organizers, tens of thousands of people in more than a hundred Russian cities demonstrated in an unprecedented wave of protests on Saturday for the release of opposition leader Navalny. In the capital Moscow alone, there should have been 40,000 demonstrators. The police published significantly lower numbers.
The Russian officials sometimes took brutal action against the largely peaceful demonstrators. According to media reports, a police officer in St. Petersburg is said to have brutally kicked a 54-year-old woman, causing her a traumatic brain injury. The woman is lying in the hospital and is unconscious, it is said. Investigators announced they are looking into the case. The civil rights organization OVD-Info has now counted 3,592 protesters arrested.
Navalny, who was the victim of a poison attack in August, was arrested in Moscow a week ago on his return home. The 44-year-old is said to have violated reporting requirements in previous criminal proceedings while he was recovering from the attack in Germany.
Foreign criticism of dealing with protests is growing
Meanwhile, the Baltic states of Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania criticized the authorities’ approach to the protests. “We strongly condemn the arrest of peaceful demonstrators in Russia. They must be released immediately, «wrote the foreign ministers of the three EU and NATO countries bordering Russia.
In their verbatim message, Urmas Reinsalu from Estonia, Edgars Rinkevics from Latvia, and Gabrielius Landsbergis from Lithuania also called for the EU to take a tough stance on Moscow. “We all in the EU must be determined to impose restrictive measures on Russian officials responsible for the arrests.”
The European foreign representative Josep Borrell had already sharply criticized the actions of the Russian authorities against the demonstrations on Saturday. He regrets the numerous arrests, the disproportionate use of force, and the restriction of Internet and telephone connections said, Borell.
As early as the middle of the week, representatives of the EU member states described new sanctions against Russia because of Navalny’s imprisonment as a realistic option. A decision will probably only be made if Navalny is held in custody for a longer period. A first exchange of views could take place on Monday at a meeting of foreign ministers in Brussels.