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Russia Protest: Crowds Clash with Riot Police

Riot police clash with protesters in the small Ural town of Bashkortostan after the arrest of rights activist Fail Alsynov.
Russia+Protest%3A+Crowds+Clash+with+Riot+Police

Footage shows supporters of Fail Alsynov clashing with police near the court.  The protesters were seen throwing snowballs at the police officers.

Alsynov was jailed for inciting ethnic hatred, which he denies.

One protester had a “smashed head,” and dozens were detained and injured, according to the monitoring group     OVD-Info.

The trial and protests took place in Baymak which is near the border with Kazakhstan. Authorities have started opening up investigations against some of those demonstrating for “mass rioting” charges. These carry a maximum sentence of 15 years in prison.

“I advise you to come to your senses and not ruin your life,” warned Bashkortostan’s Interior Minister Rafail Divayev.

A local journalist, Artur Asafyev, told BBC that the authorities were attempting to make an example out of the protestors and Alsynov. The sentence given to Alsynov was harsher than what was requested by the prosecutor.

“They knew that a harsh sentence would make people angry,” said Mr. Asafyev.

Some reports say that there were thousands of protestors present. This is surprising as the protests were taking place over several days when the weather was -20C(-4F). According to Mr. Asafyev, the people of the region were used to protests about other issues. He added that people had come from miles away to protest.

Protestors were seen shouting their support for Alsynov.  There are additional reports of protestors attempting to block the courthouse after his sentence was announced. Russian investigators said law enforcement was among those injured at the protests, and they claimed that the protestors used “objects as weapons.”

Tear gas was reportedly fired at the protestors and the protestors were seen throwing snowballs at the police.A map to shoe the location of the protests.

Alsynov has been accused of insulting migrants at a demonstration against plans to mine for gold. Supporters however say that it was delayed revenge for his activism in preventing soda mining in what the locals consider a sacred place. He is said to have called Central Asians and Caucasians, who make up most of Russia’s migrant population, “black people” which is a derogatory term in Russia. He however insists that the words he used in the Bashkir language meant “poor people.” He intends to appeal this verdict.

Alsynov has also in the past criticized the military mobilization in the region as a “genocide” of the Bashkir people. A Turkic race closely related to the Tarters which inhabits the southern Ural Mountains. There have been long-running claims that a disproportionally high number of ethnic minorities were being sent to fight in Ukraine.

Alsynov was a leader of Bashkort, a movement set up to preserve the identity of the Bashkirs. The movement was later banned as extremist in 2020.

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