Putin tried to smash rivals. But protests have spiraled

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But the protests have now taken on a different rationale: They have become a response to the wide-ranging crackdown on opposition activism. The slogan for the upcoming protest is “against political repression.”

The response of the authorities to weeks of protest has been telling. In addition to the detention of leading opposition figures, police have made sweeping arrests of demonstrators. According to OVD-Info, a monitoring group, more than 2,000 people have been detained in recent large protests, both at unsanctioned marches and on the sidelines of legally sanctioned demonstrations.

Footage of those arrests has spurred much of the outrage. One video that went viral showed a Russian riot police officer punching a woman in the stomach on August 10, the day of a sanctioned protest. Days before that protest, the Moscow prosecutor’s office said it was seeking to strip an unnamed couple of their parental rights for bringing a baby to the July 27 rally.

Authorities have taken other legal measures. The Investigative Committee, a top Russian law-enforcement body, opened a criminal case against Navalny’s Anti-Corruption Fund, saying it was initiating a criminal probe of Navalny’s Anti-Corruption Fund, or FBK, over alleged “financial transactions with funds known to be acquired by other persons by criminal means.”

The Investigative Committee alleged that Navalny’s non-profit, which investigates official corruption in Russia, received money from third parties as part of money-laundering scheme. (Navalny and his supporters say such cases are politically motivated.)

Russian lawmakers have also weighed in. The Duma, Russia’s lower house of parliament, ordered the creation of a special commission to probe “foreign interference” in Russian elections amid the wave of opposition protests.

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