Russian police have detained more than 2,000 people in a crackdown on protests in support of jailed opposition leader Alexei Navalny, monitors say.
Tens of thousands of people defied a heavy police presence to join some of the largest rallies against President Vladimir Putin in recent years.
In Moscow, riot police were seen beating and dragging away protesters.
Mr Navalny, President Putin’s most high-profile critic, called for protests after his arrest last Sunday.
He was detained after he flew back to Moscow from Berlin, where he had been recovering from a near-fatal nerve agent attack in Russia last August.
On his return, he was immediately taken into custody and found guilty of violating parole conditions. He says it is a trumped-up case designed to silence him.
OVD Info, an independent NGO that monitors rallies, said about 2,800 people had been detained, more than 1,000 of them in Moscow alone. The Kremlin has not commented.
Protester: ‘I’m tired of being afraid’
The unauthorised demonstrations were held from Russia’s Far East and Siberia to Moscow and St Petersburg. Protesters ranged from teenage students to elderly people who demanded Mr Navalny’s release.
At least 40,000 people joined a rally in central Moscow, Reuters news agency estimated. Observers say this was the largest protest in the capital since the demonstrations of 2019. But Russia’s interior ministry put the number of protesters at 4,000.
In the city’s Pushkin square, some protesters chanted “Freedom to Navalny” and “Putin go away!” One woman told the BBC she had decided to join the demonstration because “Russia has been turned into a prison camp”.
Sergei Radchenko, a 53-year-old protester in Moscow, told Reuters: “I’m tired of being afraid. I haven’t just turned up for myself and Navalny, but for my son because there is no future in this country.”
Lyubov Sobol, a prominent aide of Mr Navalny who had already been fined for urging Russians to join the protests, tweeted a video of police roughly pulling her away from an interview with reporters.
Mr Navalny’s wife, Yulia, was briefly held at the rally. She posted an image on her Instagram account with the caption: “Apologies for the poor quality. Very bad light in the police van.”
Some protesters marched on the high-security prison where Mr Navalny is being held, and many were arrested.
Meanwhile, one independent news source, Sota, said at least 3,000 people had joined a demonstration in the city of Vladivostok, but local authorities there put the figure at 500.
AFP footage showed riot police running into a crowd, and beating some of the protesters with batons.
In the Siberian city of Yakutsk, attendees at a small protest saw temperatures dip as low as -50C (-58F).
Prior to the rallies, Russian authorities had promised a tough crackdown. Several of Mr Navalny’s close aides, including his spokeswoman Kira Yarmysh, were arrested earlier in the week.
His supporters called for more protests next weekend.
Alexei Navalny: The basics
- Mr Navalny is an anti-corruption campaigner and the most prominent face of Russian opposition to President Vladimir Putin
- He attempted to stand in the 2018 presidential race, but was barred because of an embezzlement conviction that he says was politically motivated
- An outspoken blogger, he has millions of Russian followers on social media and managed to get some supporters elected to local councils in Siberia in 2020
Mobile phones and internet disrupted
There were reports of disruption to mobile phone and internet coverage on Saturday, though it is not known if this was related to the protests.
The social media app TikTok had been flooded with videos promoting the demonstrations and sharing viral messages about Mr Navalny.
In response, Russia’s official media watchdog, Roskomnadzor, demanded that TikTok take down any information “encouraging minors to act illegally”, threatening large fines. The education ministry had told parents not to allow their children to attend any demonstrations.
In a push to gain support ahead of the protests, Mr Navalny’s team released a video about a luxury Black Sea resort that they allege belongs to President Putin – an accusation denied by the Kremlin. The video has been watched by more than 65 million people.
The UK Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab, condemned the “use of violence against peaceful protesters and journalists” on Saturday, calling on the authorities to release those detained during peaceful demonstrations.
The US state department condemned what it called “harsh tactics” used against protesters and journalists, saying: “We call on Russian authorities to release all those detained for exercising their universal rights and for the immediate and unconditional release of Aleksey Navalny”.
The EU foreign policy chief, Josep Borrell, said the bloc’s foreign ministers would discuss the Russian crackdown on Monday. “I deplore widespread detentions, disproportionate use of force, cutting down internet and phone connections.”
Read from source: https://www.bbc.com/news/world-europe-55778334
Magdalena Andersson: Sweden’s first female PM returns after resignation
bbc– Sweden’s first female prime minister has been reappointed to the top job after political turmoil forced her to resign within hours of taking the post last week.
MPs backed Social Democratic Party leader Magdalena Andersson by a narrow margin in a new vote on Monday.
She will attempt to lead a one-party government until an election in September next year.
She stood down as PM last Wednesday after her coalition collapsed.
Just hours earlier, Ms Andersson had been elected as Sweden’s first female prime minister by a single vote in parliament.
But the 54-year-old economist’s plan for forming a new coalition government with the Green Party was thrown into disarray when her budget proposal failed to pass.
- Sweden’s first female PM resigns hours after appointment
Instead, parliament voted for a budget drawn up by a group of opposition parties, including the far-right Sweden Democrats.
The Green Party said it would not accept a budget drafted by the far-right and walked away from the government, leading to its demise.
By convention, the prime minister in Sweden is expected to resign if a coalition party leaves government.
In Monday’s vote in Sweden’s parliament, the Riksdag, 101 of its 349 members voted yes, 75 abstained and 173 voted no.
To be appointed prime minister under Sweden’s political system, a candidate only needs to avoid a majority voting against them.
At a news conference after the vote, Ms Andersson said she was ready to “take Sweden forward” with a programme focused on welfare, climate change and crime.
But without the support of other parties, Ms Andersson will struggle to pass legislation in parliament, where the centre-left Social Democrats hold 100 of 349 seats.
After a week of drama, Magdalena Andersson’s prime ministerial career is back on track, but Sweden’s political soap opera is far from over.
Ms Andersson still has to implement a budget put together by some of her right-wing rivals. Plus, she’s got to govern a fragile minority without the formal support of the Greens, who’ve been a crucial coalition partner since 2014.
All this has highlighted the complexities of having a deeply divided eight-party parliament. Some political commentators here are worried that Ms Andersson’s chaotic rise to power may have dented trust in the entire political system.
Once formed, Ms Andersson’s new government will remain in place until general elections, which are set to take place in September next year. Until then, she’s got just over nine months to prove herself to the public.
A former junior swimming champion from the university city of Uppsala, Ms Andersson began her political career in 1996 as political adviser to then-Prime Minister Goran Persson.
She has spent the past seven years as finance minister before becoming leader of the Social Democrats at the start of November.
She replaced Stefan Lofven, who resigned as prime minister after seven years in power.
Until Ms Andersson took over, Mr Lofven had remained prime minister of a caretaker government after being ousted in an unprecedented vote of no confidence in June.
Covid: Europe region faces 700,000 more deaths by March – WHO
bbc– A further 700,000 people could die of Covid by March in Europe and parts of Asia, the World Health Organization has warned.
The death toll already exceeds 1.5 million in the 53 countries of what the WHO terms as its Europe region.
The WHO warned of “high or extreme stress” in intensive care units in 49 of the nations by March 2022.
Europe is facing a surge in cases, prompting Austria to return to lockdown and others to consider fresh measures.
A number of countries – including France, Germany and Greece – could also soon make booster jabs a requirement for their citizens to be considered fully vaccinated.
But several countries have seen fierce protests against new measures. The Netherlands saw several nights of rioting over a partial lockdown.
In its assessment, the WHO warned Covid was the top cause of death in its Europe region.
“Cumulative reported deaths are projected to reach over 2.2 million by spring next year, based on current trends,” the WHO said on Tuesday.
Confirmed Covid-related deaths recently doubled to almost 4,200 a day, it added.
In Russia alone, the daily death toll has been recently topping 1,200.
A high number of unvaccinated people and the prevalence of the Delta variant in some countries were key factors behind high transmission rates in the Europe region, the WHO said.
The WHO Europe director, Dr Hans Kluge, urged those who were still unvaccinated to get the jab.
“All of us have the opportunity and responsibility to help avert unnecessary tragedy and loss of life, and limit further disruption to society and businesses over this winter season,” he said.
As well as European nations, the WHO also considers Israel and ex-Soviet states like Tajikistan and Uzbekistan as making up the region.
Liverpool bomb investigators ‘discovering more by the hour’ says security minister
independent– Security minister Damian Hinds has said counterterrorism police are “discovering more by the hour” about the Liverpool attack, as he suggested it was “not impossible” others could have been involved.
His remarks come after police named the failed bomber who died in the Liverpool Women’s Hospital explosion as 32-year-old Emad al-Swealmeen and the UK’s terror threat was raised to “severe” from “substantial”.
Addressing the situation, Mr Hinds stressed it could be “weeks” before the full picture of the attack is known, including the motivation and whether others were involved.
“It’s a live investigation and the police do have the space, the time, to be able to conduct that investigation fully and carry on their searches of the key address and carry on with the analysis,” he told Times Radio.
He said: “It’s not impossible that there could be other people involved. If that is the case, as the police said in their statement last night, they’ll make arrests quickly.
“I’m not in a position to be able to comment on the background of the individual, the deceased individual or to speculate about the case.”
In a separate interview on Sky News, the minister also said the Covid pandemic and lockdowns may have “exacerbated” the number of people self-radicalising online — an issue previously highlighted by experts.
He said: “It certainly is true that we’ve seen a move over time, a shift from these what we call directed attacks, part of a bigger organisation where people are following instructions, sometimes quite complex in their organisation, and move from that to more self-directed, some self-radicalised individuals or small groups, rarely totally, totally alone.”
He added: “There has been that move. During the lockdown periods there have been more people spending more time in front of computer screens and we know that when that happens for a very small minority, a very very small minority, there can be radicalisation.
“I’m afraid it’s not brand now — radicalisation, self-radicalisation on the internet, the propaganda, the way people make contact with each other, that is not a new development, but like a number of things the changes we saw through the coronavirus period, through lockdown changed the modus operandi and this case yes they will have exacerbated and increased the amount of time people are spending online”.
But he defended the decision to reduce the terror threat in February when quizzed on the issue, saying: “The alert level is determined independently of ministers — it’s not something I determine, or the Home Secretary determines.
“We have a body JTAC — Joint Terrorism Analysis Centre — who are experts in this area. They use the alert level the way that law enforcement, security services and others can calibrate what they are doing.
“We’ve been at a high alert for a very long time now and that’s the important,” he added.
Asked again on why the alert level was changed despite the risk of people becoming radicalised online during the pandemic, he added: “The alert level was substantial, meaning an attack was likely.”
He added: “These are not decisions that I made or ministers mind. We trust professionals and experts in the field. My opinion is that I absolutely trust them to make those correct judgments. “
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