Why this story matters:
It is a well-known fact that protesting against Putin's regime is a dangerous business in Russia, especially in the country's capital, where the riot police are battle-hardened and notoriously brutal. However, it did not stop several thousand people from putting on paper crowns and self-made signs (sometimes ironic, such as "Putin for Emperor!"), and taking to the streets all across the country to protest against 6 more years of his rule.
Police brutality was to be expected, but the novelty this time was that in Moscow about a hundred people dressed as Cossacks and WW2-era soldiers turned up for a counter-protest. They proceeded to bully and fight anti-Putin demonstrators -- unchecked by the police. It seems that in Putin's Russia, support of the president is a super-power: one can do whatever one likes, and the police will look the other way.
Details from the story:
- On May 5, on the day of Putin's inauguration, thousands of people went out to protest all across Russia, following a call to action from Alexey Navalny, Russian's most prominent opposition activist.
- Most of these protest rallies were not permitted by the authorities, meaning that the police had a wide license to use force against peaceful protesters.
- In Moscow, the police openly sided with the pro-Putin counter-demonstrators, who bullied and often hit the anti-Putin ones.
- In Moscow, about 700 people were arrested, out of them only one "Cossack".