“The police cracked down on protesters much more strongly during Putin’s inauguration than before his election”
Monday’s protests were unauthorized, but the police were ready for them. They wouldn’t let anyone get within 50 metres of the streets the president’s motorcade would drive through. The direction protesters marched kept changing every time the police blocked their way. They chanted, “Put Putin in a gulag!”, “Putin, get out!” and even just “Shame!”Protesters yell "Shame!" as an elderly protester is arrested.Protesters ended up gathering at Kitay-Gorod plaza, in front of the presidential administration office, and hundreds of them decided to camp out there overnight. This surprised everyone – it wasn’t planned. Despite frequent arrests, people were in high spirits; some had their guitars out and sang Beatles songs.Opposition leader Alexey Navalny calls for the protest to continue overnight. He asks those gathered, "Are you serious about staying here?" They yell, "Yes!" He continues: "Ok, then call your friends, and write on Twitter and Facebook that we are organising a sit-in. If you want to leave, wait until someone, or better two people, replaces you here. No tents - they arrest for tents. No alcohol, unfortunately."The police was less violent than on Sunday – they used street-cleaning vehicles to spray people with water, rather than hit them with their batons.The police try to disperse protesters with a street-cleaning vehicle. One protester tries to get in the way and is arrested.Still, they arrested many protesters; they kept arresting dozens of people at a time throughout the day and into the night. Some of the opposition leaders were even arrested multiple times. But they just kept coming back.Overall, however, the police cracked down on protesters much more strongly during this inauguration than on the protests before his election. They were more violent with journalists, too. I have a bruise to prove it. And I saw them strike at several journalists’ cameras.I was impressed to see that the protesters were still at the plaza this morning; they are certainly determined.