Navalny was released from prison on Friday, but when he was in prison, another activist emerged as the leading opposition voice: Lyubov Sobol, lawyer and activist at Navalny Anti-Corruption Fund. Sobol recently ended a month-long hunger strike after election officials refused to let them vote in the upcoming local elections. She was also arrested and released from protest on 3 August.
Initially, the protests focused on the local elections scheduled for 8 September. The Moscow Electoral Commission has excluded a number of independent and oppositional candidates from the candidacy because they did not receive enough signatures for the candidacy. Opposition activists say the authorities are taking administrative measures to block real political competition.
But the protests now have another rationale: they are a response to the widespread crackdown on opposition activism. The slogan for the upcoming protest is "against political repression".
The response of the authorities to weeks of protests is significant. In addition to detaining leading opposition politicians, police have arrested demonstrators. According to OVD-Info, a monitoring group, over 2,000 people have been arrested during major protests in recent years, both in unauthorized demonstrations and on the brink of legally-sanctioned demonstrations.
Carrots and Approaching Sticks
The authorities have taken other legal action. The Investigative Committee, one of the leading Russian law enforcement agencies, instituted criminal proceedings against the Navalny Anti-Corruption Fund and said it had opened a criminal investigation into the Navalny (FBK) Anti-Corruption Fund for alleged "financial transactions with funds known to be" that they are being acquired by other persons acquired by criminal means. "
The Investigative Committee stated that Navalny, a non-profit organization investigating corruption in Russia, received funds from third parties as part of money laundering operations. (Nawalny and his followers say such cases are politically motivated.)
The Russian legislator has also weighed. The Duma, Russia's lower house, ordered the establishment of a special commission to investigate "foreign interference" in the elections in Russia wave of opposition protests.
And local authorities have carrots and whips to hold protests. The Moscow city government organized two last-minute street carnivals that seemed to lure Moscow away from protests (including a barbecue and music festival on August 10, no doubt titled "Meat and Beat").
At present, it's hard to tell where the protests are going. After the massive turnout on 10th August, the demonstrations were more subdued the following weekend. The protest was a "solo picket" – individual demonstrators holding signs in downtown Moscow to avoid arrest for attending an unauthorized meeting.
But even modest protests can have an effect. At the beginning of the summer, Russian authorities dropped criminal charges against prominent investigative reporter Ivan Golunov after heavy public setbacks. However, the Kremlin does not seem prepared to make concessions to the opposition.
When Putin was asked on Monday after the recent arrests, he insisted: The Russians have a limited right to freedom of assembly.
"Neither the authorities nor groups of citizens have the right to violate the law and to bear the situation. Englisch: www.germnews.de/archive/en-US/1996/03.html Addressing the authorities ", he said in a press conference with French President Emmanuel Macron," This is against the law and all those who have committed these violations must be held accountable under Russian law. "
In other words: Putin is unlikely to view the upcoming protest as a legitimate political complaint.