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Russia’s Putin Faces Rising Discontent Amid Alexei Navalny Protests

This weekend, Russia saw massive protests in support of jailed opposition leader who was poisoned with the nerve agent Novichok, Alexei Navalny. The demonstrations against the Kremlin indicate growing discontent with President Vladimir Putin ahead of the parliamentary elections this year. The unsanctioned rallied were among the largest in Russia, consisting of tens of thousands of people braving freezing temperatures, the threat of catching Covid-19, and being arrested.

Security forces allegedly detained more than 3,500 people. This marks the most arrest from a single protest in at least nine years, according to independent monitors. Mr. Putin’s approval ratings have dropped over recent years due to economic hardship and protest activity. If the protests continue, they could pose a threat to Putin’s rule despite his move to alter the constitution to allow him to remain in power until 2036, which was enacted last year. The Kremlin must decide to either give in to pressure and release Mr. Navalny or risk inciting more violence and backlash.

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