After sharing joke about Navalny protests, website editor in Russia jailed
“This is an attempt to silence honest and professional journalism,” Echo of Moscow, Russia’s best-known liberal radio station, said in a statement.
Mr Smirnov’s imprisonment came after a night of police violence in central Moscow, where more than a thousand people tried to protest Mr Navalny’s prison term. They were greeted by an overwhelming display of police forces – Russian media reported that more than 8,000 police had been deployed – which flooded the large squares and upscale side streets near the Kremlin.
“We woke up in another country, the one in which the fascists took power”, Yevgeny Roizman, former mayor of the city of Yekaterinburg and critic of the Kremlin, written on twitter. “They took control of the country earlier, but they stopped hiding it yesterday.”
Authorities across Russia have made more than 10,000 arrests in recent weeks, according to OVD-Info, an activist group that tracks detentions during protests. Those incarcerated or under house arrest include most of Mr. Navalny’s closest allies inside the country and many of his main supporters in the regions.
The Kremlin reiterated on Wednesday that it would not back down.
“There must be no unauthorized protest activity,” Putin spokesman Dmitry S. Peskov told reporters. “The unapproved protests are concerning, confirming that the police are justified in their harsh legal actions.”
Still, Mr. Navalny’s supporters see a dynamic on their side, and those allies who managed to avoid prison called on the Russians to be patient and keep fighting. Mr Navalny’s prominence is now far greater than it was just a month ago, with extensive coverage even on state television news. And, even in prison, he may have a unique ability to unite Russia’s disparate opposition – while allies who are relatively safe outside the country will continue to try to reach the Russians in line.