Russia: Updates from anti-election protests in Moscow (March 5th)

On March 5th anarchists gathered at Lubjanka and Manege squares in Moscow. When anarchist blocks realized that in Lubjanka Square only around 100 people was gathered (and soon half of them got arrested by a huge force of special mobile police units, OMON), at 7pm Russian time they decided to walk to Pushkin Square. During the authorized gathering at Pushkin Square, anarchists waved black-red and black flags with the slogan ‘Freedom or Death’, while other protesters expressed their understanding of recent developments with placards such as ‘All of them must resign (without reelections)’, ‘What do we need a president for?’, ‘All politicians are thieves and crooks’. But most people didn’t hold much, as they were prepared for clashes.

The clashes started at about 8.40pm. The opposition members announced that, after the end of the gathering at Pushkin Square, everybody should peacefully move on to Manege Square, where a tent camp had been established in front of the Kremlin walls. But in the end of the protest, orators called people to stay at Pushkin Square in order to attend an open meeting with Ilya Ponomarev, recently ‘elected’ into the State Duma.

In view of riots, the authorities flooded the city centre of Moscow in advance with an overwhelming amount of OMON units and armored vehicles. The cops yelled through a loudspeaker that the event is over and everybody must return to the closest metro station. The police began to push back people who were outside the metal detectors which were installed at the entrance of the gathering point. There were also anarchists among those, who simply torn one of the metal detectors, in order to break through and head to the gathering and decisively remain at the turnstiles. The cops caught the people, who were close to the fallen metal detector, and arrested 11 protesters in an utmost crude way.

Small blocks tried to force their way through, towards the side of the Kremlin, and succeeded to break through police lines; the fiercest group among these protesters got arrested while the rest were pushed back. By that time, thousands of people, including anarchists, stood at the Pushkin Square. Soon, OMON units surrounded the gathering place. The most persistent protesters formed a human chain near a fountain which is not working in winter time. In the end the cops broke the human chain. Detainees were taken in paddywagons and other demonstrators were chased out of the square.

Nearly 250 protesters were arrested downtown, among them 25 anarchists and supporters. A total of 30 thousand people attended the protests (among them ultra-nationalists and Nazis), which is far less than previous mobilizations, because in December and February the protests had reached a peak with nearly 100 thousand participants. Leftist analysts ‘predicted’ a decline of the protest movement during spring and anticipate a second wave in the summer, when state authorities will raise the prices for food, public services and fuel.