Over 3,300 persons were arrested in Russia during demonstrations called by detained opposition politician Alexeï Navalny to press for his liberation, the OVD Info non-governmental organisation reported on Sunday.
One woman injured during a demonstration in Saint Petersburg, the country’s second largest city and President Vladimir Putin’s hometown, had to be hospitalised and is in intensive care, French news agency AFP reported on Sunday, quoting hospital sources.
The repression unleashed on Saturday’s demonstrations, during which tens of thousands of protesters called for Navalny’s liberation, has been condemned by the European Union and the United States.
According to OVD Info, which specialises in covering opposition demonstrations, police arrested at least 3,324 demonstrators during the protests, held in dozens of cities across Russia, including 1,320 in Moscow and 490 in St. Petersburg.
This is the largest number of arrests during opposition demonstrations in modern Russian history. On Saturday evening, the Office of the Public Prosecutor in St. Petersburg announced in a statement that it was investigating acts of violence, “including by forces charged with enforcing the law.”
The statement followed the airing by local media of a video showing a woman falling to the ground after being kicked by anti-riot policemen. The woman, identified as Margarita Ludina, could be seen in the video asking three policemen why they were arresting a young, unarmed demonstrator. One of the policemen then kicked her in the stomach.
Ms. Ludina was hospitalised on Saturday evening with head wounds, a representative of the Janelidze Hospital in St. Petersburg told AFP on Sunday. “She is in serious condition,” the representative said. “She is in intensive care.”
Clashes between police and demonstrators broke out on Saturday in big cities across Russia as tens of thousands of people assembled in various parts of the country, shouting “Putin thief!”, “Navalny, we are with you!” and “Freedom for political prisoners!”
In Moscow, hundreds of persons gathered on Saturday night outside the Matrosskaïa Tichina Prison, where Navalny is detained. Police clubbed demonstrators with their batons, made a number of arrests, and dispersed the others.