MOSCOW, Aug. 23 (Reuters / EP) –
Russian opponent Alexei Navalni has taken advantage of his first statements this Friday after being released from prison to warn that the wave of protests against Russian President Vladimir Putin and the authorities will continue to increase.
Navalni has been released this Friday from the prison where he has served 30 days in detention for encouraging him to demonstrate to claim free elections.
“Now we see that lies and fraud are not enough for them. It is not enough for them to ban candidates in an election. They deliberately want to stop tens and beat hundreds … this shows that there is no support for this regime. They feel it and are afraid, “defended the opposition leader.
“I have no doubt that despite the genuine acts of intimidation and terror that are happening now, with random people arrested, this wave (of protests) will increase and this regime will seriously regret what it has done,” he added.
The 43-year-old lawyer and activist was jailed last month after calling on the Russians to demonstrate in central Moscow for the exclusion of opposition candidates from local elections in the Russian capital in September. The elections, although municipal, are seen as a test for the 2021 parliamentary elections.
The authorities' refusal to register a lot of opposition candidates, including some Navalni allies, for technical reasons has triggered the largest sustained protest movement in Russia from 2011-2013, when protesters took to the streets against what they perceived As electoral fraud.
Police briefly detained more than 2,000 people, initiated criminal cases against about ten for massive disorder, issued brief prison sentences against almost all of Navalni's surroundings and used force to disperse what he said were illegal protests.
Putin said this week that the authorities are managing the situation in line with the law and that he does not want “yellow vests” protests like those that have occurred in France.
The popularity of the ruling party, United Russia, has been at its lowest level since 2011 and Putin's own popularity has also been reduced due to discomfort with living standards, although it remains above 60 percent.
Navalni has thanked people on Friday for taking to the streets and praised the bravery of opposition candidates excluded from the elections. “They are doing everything they can and in them we see the true new opposition,” he added. “I am very happy with it,” he said.