They’ve Shut Down Red Square!

Jul 18 2013 @ 1:40pm

Mass protests have broken out in Moscow following the show-trial conviction of opposition leader and Moscow mayoral candidate Alexei Navalny, whose final update on Twitter urged supporters to congregate at Manezhnaya Square. Tweets from the scene:

Of course, there have been indications of censorship:

And some ironies:

The situation is developing rapidly:

Within the last hour – and within hours of the start of the street protests – the regional prosecutor’s office announced that it had appealed Navalny’s detention. Navalny had announced earlier today that he would drop his mayoral campaign, but just minutes ago, RT reported that Navalny would in fact continue to run if released. It remains unclear how this news will affect the demonstrations, if at all.

Meanwhile, the European Union, the US ambassador to Russia, William Hague, and Mikhail Gorbachev have expressed concern about Navalny’s five-year sentence, and Russian stocks have tumbled following the news. Arrests have been reported in Moscow and St. Petersburg. Daniel Sandford reports that Navalny was defiant at the sentencing:

In his closing remarks to the judge, Alexei Navalny was unrepentant. “We will destroy this feudal society that is robbing all of us,” he raged. “If somebody thought that on hearing the threat of six years in prison I was going to run away abroad or hide somewhere, they were mistaken. I cannot run away from who I am. I have nothing else but this, and I don’t want to do anything else but to help my country. To work for my fellow citizens.”

Navalny supporters say the election campaign will continue even if he is jailed. “This can’t go on forever,” he added. “A situation in which 140 million people in one of the biggest and richest countries in the world are subjugated by a handful of worthless monsters. They are not even oligarchs, who built up their wealth through shrewdness or wisdom. They are a bunch of former Komsomol activists, turned democrats, turned patriots, who grabbed everything into their own hands.”

The Economist says the conviction likely won’t be the end for Navalny:

Although only half of the country knows anything about the case against Mr. Navalny, most of those who do see it as retribution for his anti-corruption campaign, not as a way to stop him running for election. Yet jailing him for five years will mean that Sergei Sobyanin, the incumbent mayor, wins a tainted vote on September 8th. As it happens, Mr. Sobyanin was ahead of Mr. Navalny in the polls, partly because Muscovites see the role of a mayor as administrative, not political. Indeed, from a political viewpoint Mr. Navalny could have been hurt more by an apparent defeat in a mayoral election than by being sent to jail. …Mikhail Khodorkovksy, a former oil tycoon who challenged Mr. Putin over corruption in 2003, has been in jail ever since and is unlikely to come out even when his second term expires next year. Mr. Navalny’s sentence is also unlikely to be his final one. But as he himself said, “If anyone thinks that I or my colleagues will cease our activity because of this trial…they are gravely mistaken.”

The Interpreter and Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty are live-blogging. Live-feed here.