It appears the Kremlin may have lost patience with democratic protest after police fanned out around Moscow on Monday, searching opposition leaders’ homes and summoning several of them for questioning.
The searches included one at the home of internet anti-corruption blogger Alexei Navalny, and leftist leader Sergei Udaltsov.
“Their task is to frighten people and to use us as an example to other citizens of why they should not be active, why they shouldn’t take part in mass actions, instead they should sit at home be quiet and obey the government. That’s probably the goal of United Russia and Putin,” said Udaltsov.
Protest it seems was tolerated during the run-up to Putin’s re-election. Not any more if the police’s new attitude is to go by.
“I think it’s a real provocation and we’ll have to see what to do about it,” said opposition journalist Sergei Parkhomenko.
Many have said stiff new fines for public protests are unconstitutional, and Tuesday’s big anti-Putin march could be affected as so many opposition figures have been ordered in for questioning.