Russian authorities on Thursday unleashed a crackdown on peaceful protesters demanding the release of Aleksei Navalny.
Authorities arrested at least 1,700 using excessive force, including tasers, at demonstrations around the country.
Amnesty International is asking for the immediate release of all those who have been detained for exercising their rights to freedom of expression and assembly, and for the immediate release of Aleksei Navalny who is being arbitrarily detained and denied access to independent healthcare.
“On Wednesday, in cities around Russia, tens of thousands of protesters took to the streets calling for an end to the arbitrary imprisonment of Aleksei Navalny.
In many cities, the Russian authorities responded by arresting protesters en-masse, often using excessive force.
“With every peaceful protester they arrest, the Russian authorities plunge the country deeper into a human rights crisis. Their attempts to trample dissent into dust are growing increasingly desperate from the ongoing detention of Navalny and the effort to ban his movement by branding it ‘extremist’, to the violent targeting and mass arrest of his supporters.
“There are simply not enough jail cells to lock up and silence every critical voice in Russia. The Russian authorities’ shocking crackdown on basic freedoms cannot continue – the whole world is watching,” Amnesty International’s Moscow Office Director Natalia Zviagina said.
According to police watchdog OVD-Info, at least 1,786 protesters were taken into custody across Russia, with 805 detentions in Saint Petersburg alone. Authorities in Moscow and other cities denied permits for the rallies, claiming that they were in violation of COVID-19 restrictions.
On 16 April, independent doctors assessed Aleksei Navalny’s recent blood tests taken in the penal colony and stated he could suffer a cardiac arrest “at any moment”.