Russian protest symbols explained

Russian protesters took rubber ducks and sports shoes to demonstrations on Sunday

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Russian protest symbols explained

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Hundreds of protesters, including opposition leader Alexei Navalny, were arrested on Sunday during an anti-corruption demonstration in Moscow and other Russian cities.

But what were the protests about, and why did some of the attendees bring rubber ducks?

What the rallies were about

Thousands took to the streets across Russia on Sunday, in what the Kremlin has called unsanctioned demonstrations, calling for the resignation of Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev.

The nationwide action comes as Medvedev is accused of corruption. These claims originate from a investigatory film by Navalny and his Anti-Corruption Foundation, which alleges Medvedev has a “corruption empire”.

Medvedev’s spokesperson has called the claims “propagandistic outbursts of a convicted opposition figure”.

What’s with the rubber ducks?

Many protesters carried rubber ducks or pairs of trainers to the protest, instead of traditional banners and placards.

These are both nods to the corrupt expenses they accuse Medvedev of.

Alexei Navalny’s film alleges that the Prime Minister has a large duck house, in the middle of a pond on one of his estates. It is not the first time a politician has been accused of corruption in relation to a duck house. In 2010 it was a reported that a British MP had claimed parliamentary expenses for a duck house.

Other demonstrators carried trainers or sports shoes, or hung pairs of shoes from lamp posts. This was again linked to Medvedev’s alleged spending. The Prime Ministers has been pictured at public events wearing expensive trainers, and according to Navalny he is a frequent online shopper, buying as many as 20 pairs of shoes in just three months.

Another common sight at the protest was supporters of Navalny sporting bright green paint covering their face and hands.

This was a very clear show of solidarity with the opposition leader, who in early March was attacked on the campaign trail and sprayed with green dye.

“I will be opening a headquarters in Barnaul as if I am from the film The Mask! Cool. Even my teeth are green!,” he said on Twitter at the time.

Navalny was on the campaign trail throughout Russia when he was sprayed, despite being barred from standing in the 2018 election due to a five-year suspended jail sentence for embezzlement. He denies the charges, and his supporters say the allegations are politically motivated.

The protests are believed to be the biggest in Russia since 2011, with organisers claiming that thousands took to the street in as many as 100 Russian towns and cities.

Kremlin spokesperson Dmitry Peskov said: “Slogans, the proposals and criticism voiced will be taken into account.”

But Navalny is currently serving a 15-day prison sentence for disobeying police orders, and organising the unauthorised protest in Moscow.