Members of a feminist punk band are in jail and facing seven-year sentences, accused of sacrilege for singing an anti-Putin song on the altar of Moscow’s cathedral. Environmental activists are organizing in their defense. A scientist who wants to save a rare forest by the Black Sea was thrown in a cell overnight Tuesday, along with his attorney, and faces five years on a charge of hooliganism. Opposition political leaders plan demonstrations on his behalf here and elsewhere Saturday.
“It’s a sign of the beginning of repressions against civic activists,” Sergei Mitrokhin, head of the Yabloko party, said in a statement on the arrests.
On Tuesday, Alexei Navalny and the staff of his anti-corruption blog were summoned for questioning by investigators from the police extremism department. Two days earlier, prosecutors decided to pursue a fraud case against the husband of Olga Romanova, who emerged as a prominent leader of the anti-Putin demonstrations.
In the historic center of Moscow, work suddenly resumed Tuesday on a planned seven-story apartment building and underground garage that had been stalled by neighborhood protests since September. But the March election gave a seat on a local advisory council to one of the organizers of those protests, Yelena Tkach. Now part of the political system, she and her allies managed to halt the work, even as seven protesters were detained by police and a city official insisted that the project should go ahead.
“I won’t be satisfied until this is stopped,” Tkach said after she had perched atop a pile of debris to keep an excavator from removing it. One of 11 Kremlin opponents who won seats on the 15-member Presnensky district council, she now enjoys parliamentary immunity. Police instead detained her husband, Roman, on Wednesday.
Angry neighbors believe the project, on Kozikhinsky Lane, is the result of a backroom deal with city officials. Security guards attacked protesters this past summer while police stood by, but in the fall the city ordered a stop to the project.
“Because the election has passed and Putin was elected, they think now they can do anything they want,” said Anna Sergeyeva, an independent who won a seat on the Lefortovo district council and had come to Kozikhinsky on Wednesday to lend her support. “Now people are angry. And people are learning how to organize themselves.”
Tkach said plans are afoot to hold a meeting in every apartment house in the neighborhood, to gauge residents’ attitudes and organize for the future.