Trump Administration Responds to Russian Protests

Trump Administration Responds to Russian Protests

It was one of the biggest group of protests against the Russian government in years. They occurred in nearly 100 Russian towns and cities on Sunday. Reports estimated that there were some 20,000 protesters in Moscow; 10,000 in St. Petersburg; and even 2,000 who showed up in Novasibersk, Syberia, Russia’s third largest city.
It’s hard to know how many protesters were arrested. At a minimum, in Moscow, it was estimated at around 500. But in Russia these days, as in the days of the old Soviet Union, things are never what they seem. Those who were there at the time said the number of participants was much higher than reported by the government, and the arrests much lower. The Russian government warned that these protests were “unauthorized” and “illegal,” and encouraged people not to participate.
Alexei Navalny, a prominent Russian opposition leader and anti-corruption activist, was the one who orchestrated the protests. They were being held to draw attention to the extreme political corruption that still exists in Russia. Navalny had called for the resignation of Russian Prime Minister Dmitry Medvedev. Medvedev was accused of mass corruption, evidenced by a documentary film Navalny had helped make. The documentary showed the exorbitant amount of money the prime minister had spent on properties around the world, and how all his other belongings that were fit for a king — were gained on a prime minister’s salary.
Navalny’s documentary about the excesses of Medvedev on his “state salary” has received more than 13 million views in just the two weeks since it was posted the first week in March. Later, Navalny announced country-wide street protests on March 26, with a stated goal of forcing Putin and Medvedev to respond to Navalny’s accusations.
While most of those who attended the protests knew that the government would be making arrests and writing tickets for fines, it did not deter them. This is much like the uprising in 2011-2012 when Navalny used his radio and internet presence to mobilize Russians to protest the extreme voter fraud of the Russian elections. It was these demonstrations that led the Kremlin to put into place harsh new laws to suppress dissent on the part of citizens.
Protest activities on Sunday were conspicuously ignored by law enforcement and government officials. There were no show-of-force demonstrations and no interviews with any high-profile politicians. The Russian government had managed to make the world believe the protests weren’t as bad as all that — that is, until U.S. President Donald Trump’s name got thrown into the mix.
The Trump administration was being criticized for doing nothing about the protests. By Sunday evening, the U.S. State Department was condemning Russia for arresting innocent protesters. Spokesman Mark Toner said “the United States will monitor this situation, and we call on the government of Russia to immediately release all peaceful protesters,” adding that Washington was “troubled” to hear of the arrest of Russian opposition figure Alexei Navalny.
As an American citizen, it’s important to take a long hard look at what’s going on. Our own government has been cited as corrupt and overspending. Is that why these protests went ignored by the Trump Administration and the media for so long? Are they afraid America might take a cue from Russia? Maybe they just didn’t want to disrupt any newly cultivated relations with Russia. Whatever the reasoning was, Americans should know by now to look behind the curtain instead of being dazzled by the entertainment.