Russian policeman draws gun as pro-Navalny protesters clash with officers on streets of St. Petersburg (VIDEO)
Russia’s second-largest city has seen a tense standoff between police and supporters of jailed opposition figure Alexey Navalny on Sunday, as footage emerged of violence and arrests for a second consecutive weekend.
In one clip, an officer can be seen drawing his service pistol after being punched and kicked by demonstrators, who were chasing a small group of policemen down a street just off Sennaya Square in St. Petersburg. The unverified video, published by the opposition-leaning Fontanka news site, has been shared widely online.
Another recording, obtained by the newspaper Novaya Gazeta, appears to show an unconscious man being carried onto a bus in the historic city center as police could be seen making arrests outside.
The opposition-leaning news outlet also reported that journalists wearing identifying yellow vests were detained by officers in riot gear. A video shows one being carried by their arms and legs to an awaiting van. There were also reports that a loud bang had been heard around one of the columns pushing against a line of police officers. Some local outlets claimed the police had deployed a flashbang grenade, while others said it was a firecracker.
St. Petersburg was the scene of some of the most violent clashes during the protests last weekend. Images of an elderly woman being kicked in the stomach by a policeman after she attempted to stop him making an arrest went viral online. Officials have since launched an inquiry into the incident.
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Demonstrators have taken to the streets in cities across the country for a second consecutive weekend to demand Navalny’s release. The anti-corruption campaigner was jailed after landing at Moscow’s Sheremetyevo Airport earlier in January. He had flown home from Berlin, where he had been transferred in a comatose state after what his supporters, and some international observers, allege was a state-sponsored poisoning with the nerve agent Novichok.
The opposition figure is accused of violating the terms of a three-and-a-half-year suspended sentence for fraud. He is due to stand trial over the charges in early February.
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