Investigators in Moscow are looking into whether any police officers breached rules on the use of force as part of efforts to disperse mass unauthorized protests in support of jailed opposition figure Alexey Navalny, last month.
On Wednesday, Tatyana Potyaeva, the city’s human rights ombudsman, told TASS that a series of checks were being conducted. According to the Main Directorate of the Ministry of Internal Affairs in the Russian capital, she said, “based on injuries received by citizens, who claim they were due to law enforcement agency employees, over 100 inspections are being carried out, the results of which will be sent for consideration.”
“According to media reports and appeals from members of the public,” she added, “random people who found themselves in the area where mass actions were taking place were also detained, and among them were minors.”
A further 15 incidents in which officers were injured trying to maintain order and disperse crowds were also reported, Potyaeva said.
Thousands were arrested at unauthorized rallies in the course of two weekends in January, called by Navalny’s supporters. Mass events without permission from authorities have been banned throughout much of Russia as part of rules aimed at preventing the spread of the coronavirus.
Scenes of violence against both protesters and authorities went viral online. In St. Petersburg, a man punched an officer to the ground in an apparently unprovoked attack, while scenes of police clearing central squares in Moscow with batons were also shared widely on social media.
The Kremlin’s press secretary, Dmitry Peskov, told journalists that there was no prospect of dialogue with those causing unrest in the streets and that the minority responsible for violence should be dealt with “in full strictness of the law.”
“As for other people,” he added, “there are all the tools for expressing your point of view within the law at your disposal.”
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