Security forces detained more than 3, people and violently broke up rallies across Russia as tens of thousands of protesters ignored extreme cold and police warnings to demand the release of Kremlin critic Alexei Navalny. The statement was released after local media published a video showing a middle-aged woman falling to the ground after being kicked by riot police. In the video, a woman — identified as Margarita Yudina — is seen asking three policemen in full riot gear why they were detaining a young unarmed protester. One of the policeman than kicks her in the stomach.
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The women's protest that sparked the Russian Revolution | Russia | The Guardian
Tens of thousands of people rallied across Russia on Saturday in some of the largest demonstrations held against President Vladimir Putin in years. Crowds defied police to show support for opposition leader Alexei Navalny - who was arrested last weekend after returning to the country following a near-fatal nerve agent attack last year. Monitors say more than 3, were arrested for taking part in rallies in dozens of cities across the country. Reuters estimated that some 40, gathered in Moscow alone, but authorities played down the figure and said only a tenth of that number showed up. Riot police were pictured dragging away and beating some protesters. The US and UK have condemned the heavy-handed response and called for the release of peaceful protesters. Josep Borrell, the EU foreign policy chief, also expressed concern and said foreign ministers would discuss "next steps" on Monday.
In pictures: Tens of thousands gather for pro-Navalny protests
By midday of that day in there were tens of thousands of mainly women congregating on the Nevsky Prospekt, the principal avenue in the centre of the Russian capital, Petrograd, and banners started to appear. The crowds of demonstrators were varied. The revolution was begun by women, not male workers. In the afternoon the mood began to change as female textile workers from the Vyborg side of the city came out on strike in protest against shortages of bread.
It was the beginning of a day of mass protests across Russia, where tens of thousands would take to the streets to demand the release of her husband. Police would detain over 5, people and arrest 1, by the day's end. In the largest show of dissent in Russia for years, Navalnaya, 44, would find herself among the thousands arrested since protests began on Jan.