May Day under the lash. How security officials disperse protesters 

May Day under the lash. How security officials disperse protesters
Rough detentions took place Photo: The CrimeRussia

The security forces amazed everyone with their mindless shoving batons on May Day holidays once again. Only this time, the arrests took place not at the time of an uncoordinated opposition rally, but directly during the May Day demonstration in St. Petersburg and the youth concert in Luzhniki in Moscow. The consequences were similar. The report of the Ombudsman in St. Petersburg, Alexander Shishlov, states that the detentions were carried out with the use of force, without warning and were not caused by a disturbance of public order.

Security forces detained some activists from early morning for preventive purposes. But the main events took place on Nevsky Prospect. In the first column, which started at 11 o'clock, there were Governor Alexander Beglov, representatives of the United Russia party, trade union, and budget organizations. The second column with representatives of political parties of the Communist Party of the Russian Federation, the Liberal Democratic Party of Russia, the Other Russia, environmentalists, vegans, and feminists joined the march at 11:20. The parade of the third column, among which there were representatives of the Yabloko, A Just Russia, Growth parties, the Observers of St. Petersburg movement, various public organizations, city defenders and civil activists, was postponed for almost 40 minutes. Since the column was standing, law enforcement agencies, which blocked the way, warned that the participants "could be detained for participating in an uncoordinated rally." At noon the police allowed the march under escort, and selective arrests of its participants began.


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Among the detainees, there were Maxim Reznik, a deputy of the Legislative Assembly of St. Petersburg, Alexander Shurshev, one of the coordinators of the United Democrats project, Andrey Pivovarov, a representative of the United Democrats, and others.  

The third column never reached the final destination of the route at the Finland Station. The protesters and demanded to release the detainees. As a result, the path of the column took not more than half a kilometer. While a concert was held at the Palace Square, at which interim governor Alexander Beglov congratulated those gathered on the holiday of spring and labor, Rosgvardiya employees organized the ring on the Nevsky Prospekt, drove them out of the roadway and mass arrests began. The law enforcement officers dismantled the scene where the rally was supposed to cut loose.


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“Thus, the authorized procession, in which between one and a half and two thousand people participated, was dispersed,” said Ombudsman Alexander Shishlov in the report. Police detained from 53 to 69 people in St. Petersburg, some of whom were hospitalized. The organizers of the opposition march appealed to the Prosecutor General’s Office and the Investigative Committee of Russia to audit the actions of the police officers, the Rosgvardiya and the Committee on the Rule of Law and Order of Smolny Security.

In turn, the city administration presented its version of the incident. The Rule of Law Committee announced that it had authorized all notices of participation in the march from various political forces. However, the demonstration was disrupted by opposition deputies who remained unpunished. And many Petersburgers and guests of the city could not reach to the Moscow railway station on time. According to them, law enforcement agencies asked the participants to postpone the march for an hour. “To stabilize the situation, the police had to detain several instigators, but they were active in avoiding detention due to their special deputy status.” Citizens who have risen to the bait can spend the May holidays in custody, while the main organizers of the unrest will continue their work, the Committee said.

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By the way, later deputy Maxim Reznik was released and even apologized. “Deputy Head of the Main Department of Internal Affairs D.A. Baranov personally apologized, but this does not change the assessment of what happened in Petersburg as unprecedented,” he wrote on Twitter.

There are two explanations of "unprecedented arbitrariness." The first one is related to Colonel Dmitry Baranov and his chief, the new head of the State Department of the Ministry of Internal Affairs of Russia for St. Petersburg and the Leningrad Region, Police Major-General Roman Plugin. Both arrived in the northern capital from Moscow.

“Ambitious. He doesn’t even conceal that he is not equal to us, better... young, tough in decisions - there is a question, there is an answer ..." interlocutors report.

Плугин Роман Юрьевич

Roman Plugin

The second version, which was anonymously voiced by the police to Fontanka: such a strong reaction to the actions of the demonstrators is the execution of an unofficial order of the higher leaders from the national center. The interlocutor of the publication did not specify whether the instruction was received over the line of the Ministry of Internal Affairs or from civilians. Whether the different attitude to the oppositionists is connected with the upcoming elections of the Governor of St. Petersburg in the fall and Beglov’s new policy is still unknown.

If the actions of the police in the northern capital are still amenable to some analysis, then the effects of the Rosgvardiya in Moscow seem entirely thoughtless. May Day processions passed without arrests. The focus of law enforcement agencies has switched to the annual May Day concert of hip-hop performers at the Luzhniki Stadium.

HipHop MayDay

Hip-Hop MayDay

Police officers and the Rosgvardiya detained and beat visitors of the Hip-Hop MayDay festival. Eyewitnesses talk about that in the comments on VKontakte. There is no accurate data on the detainees and victims. According to the Baza Telegram channel, 18 people were hospitalized, most of whom are teenagers aged 13-16. They have broken arms, legs, fingers and sprains. The total number of injured exceeds 30 people.

The police arrived after an anonymous message about the bomb at the big concert was received.

According to the organizers, more than 100 thousand people visited it. At some the point, the number of people willing to listen to their favorite performers, exceeded the permissible limits, so the police closed the passage. Some visitors stayed behind the fence and continued to listen to music. However, there were those who decided to get inside by all means. Some broke through the barricades; others began shouting insults at the police and threw broken bricks and pieces of paving slabs.

Warning: the video contains some strong language 18+

According to reports in social networks, those who had nothing to do with it atoned for aggressive behavior.

“We were not allowed to the concert. We stood for 2 hours waiting. We decided to listen to the song behind the fence, calmly, sitting on the curb, at a time when stupid inadequate people threw bricks at the cops. The most annoying thing is that the cops beat us. People just rested and listened to live music peacefully. And they did not arrest the culprits. Thanks for the damaged kidneys,” the visitors wrote. “Dude, they arrested for one question. People were oppressed,” eyewitnesses shared their impressions.

Warning: the video contains some strong language 18+

Representatives of the festival organizing committee did not comment on what happened. One of the performers Ivan Alekseev from the Noize MC group did it for them: “A lot of people - a lot of problems. That is a crush; it is an inadequate reaction of the cops to the inappropriate behavior of visitors. That is a risk. Mass events are always a risk, and no matter how the organizers prepare for the upcoming difficulties. Moreover, the law obliges them to hire cops, and the cops also dictate their conditions - also based on the relevant laws.”

Warning: the video contains some strong language 18+

“There are a lot of videos and comments of eyewitnesses, according to which it's obvious: Rosgvardiya and the police responded to roughies' actions with shocking cruelty, beat and detained COMPLETELY OTHERS. I'm not going to idealize the audience: yes, there is a video where some insane teens throw pieces of road tiles right into the crowd - there is no excuse for this; Undoubtedly, the toughest measures should be applied to such people, and I sincerely hope that at least one of them got what they deserved. But what about those whom the employees beat on the heads with batons,” the artist wrote on Instagram.

Ivan Alekseev, who fell a victim of police actions, advised injured teen to turn to human rights activists so that such steps would not be repeated. “Attending city cultural events should be safe, and the obligation to ensure the security is the duty to the police. Beating innocent people “for preventive purposes” or “by mistake” is unacceptable,” he concluded.

Noize MC на Hip-Hop MayDay

Noize MC's performance, Hip-Hop MayDay

The police also did not comment on what happened. However, the Karaulny Telegram channel reported that after severe detentions in Moscow and St. Petersburg, Rosgvardiya employees were forced to turn to full-time psychologists a few days later. They allegedly faced “serious psycho-emotional pressure” both during the actions and after.

“The leadership doubts that the staff of the Rosgvardiya will be capable of protests suppression. The Ministry has to guarantee the psychological recovery of its employees in the future,” the channel stated.

The REN TV channel, citing sources, reported that the police had initiated audit over clashes between law enforcement officers and visitors to Hip-Hop MayDay

According to OVD-Info, the police detained 27 people in Moscow and St. Petersburg in 2016. In 2017, the number increased to 37, in 2018 - up to 53 people. This year, in two capitals, the number of detainees approached a hundred.

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