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Russia: Nine new convictions in Bashkortostan, where demonstrations continue

Police vehicles on duty in Ufa, capital of the Russian Republic of Bashkortostan, on January 19, 2024. Police vehicles on duty in Ufa, capital of Russia's Republic of Bashkortostan, January 19, 2024. STRINGER/Portal

Nine people arrested during protests in Baimak in Russia's Republic of Bashkortostan have been sentenced to several days in prison, the city's court said on Friday, as protest rallies, rare in Russia, continue.

The nine defendants who were found guilty of participating in “an unauthorized public event” were given prison sentences of eight to fifteen days, a press release said.

They were arrested on Wednesday during a demonstration outside a court in Baimak, a town of 17,000 near Kazakhstan, after opponent Faïl ​​​​Alsynov, a critic of Russia's offensive in Ukraine, was sentenced to four years in prison war is particularly committed to combating the exploitation of Bashkortostan's energy resources. He was tried behind closed doors for “inciting hatred or hostility and attacking the dignity of a person or a group of people based on gender, race, nationality, language, origin, religion or membership of a social group.”

According to the NGO OVD-Info, 6,000 people took part in the rally, which resulted in clashes with the police. About twenty were arrested and six were sentenced to a few days in prison on Thursday.

Such an outburst of anger is extremely rare in Russia, where any criticism of power is punished with prison.

Several dozen supporters of Faïl ​​​​Alsynov gathered again on Friday, this time in Ufa, the capital of Bashkortostan, and, despite a large police force, showed videos published on social networks in which we can see how the police carry out attacks. Arrests.

A few dozen meters away, other protesters recited the verses of local hero Salavat Yulaev, an 18th-century Bashkir poet whose imposing statue borders the convention center on the Belaïa River.

The Kremlin did not comment on Wednesday's events in Baimak, but Bashkortostan President Radi Khabirov condemned calls for “separatism.”