Fri, 26 Apr 2019

MOSCOW -- Protesters have taken to the streets of several Russian cities in solidarity with an activist who had been refused permission to visit her disabled daughter in the hospital until the girl was in a critical state.

Reports said at least nine participants had been detained during the February 10 Marches Of Maternal Anger held in Moscow and St. Petersburg, which were not sanctioned by the authorities.

Similar rallies and pickets were also held in Yekaterinburg, Yaroslavl, Oryol, Kazan, Makhachkala, Kirov, and Rostov-on-Don.

Moscow politician Yulia Galyamina, who organized the events, told RFE/RL's Russian Service: 'Our system has reached such a stage that it is fighting against single mothers with multiple children, against children.

Hundreds of people gathered in the Russian capital, chanting, 'Freedom to political prisoners.'

During the demonstration, scuffles erupted between protesters and members of a radical pro-Kremlin group, the South East Radical Block (SERB), who attempted to block the march.

Police detained two march participants -- including an activist of the Solidarnost (Solidarity) movement, Mikhail Kriger -- and SERB leader Gosha Tarasevich.

In St. Petersburg, police called on at least 150 people who had gathered for a similar march to disperse.

At least seven participants were detained after the crowd refused to comply, according to the nongovernmental organization Open Russia.

Anastasia Shevchenko from the southern city of Rostov-on-Don was placed under house arrest on January 23, awaiting trial, because of her work for Open Russia.

She is the first person to face criminal charges under a new law against 'undesirable organizations' introduced in 2015.

On January 30, her 17-year-old daughter was transferred from the care home where she had lived into the intensive care unit of a local hospital after suffering cardiac failure.

Shevchenko requested that she be released to see her daughter, but she says she was not let go until late in the evening and reached the hospital only hours before her daughter passed away.

Her lawyer, Sergei Badamshin, has said that the hospital took a long time to issue confirmation that the teenager had been admitted.

Shevchenko has two other children.

'Many of my female friends who decided to go out to the streets with me this Sunday have the very same feeling: anger that we, too, have children and we, too, can be arrested at any moment, Galyamina said.

This is not only a question of being involved in politics. Anyone can be oppressed by the state or simply be harmed by the state, which meddles in people's lives instead of helping them,' she added.

RFE/RL's Russian Service

RFE/RL's Radio Svoboda is the leading international broadcaster in Russia. As Russia witnesses increasing control of the media by state authorities, Radio Svoboda has become a key forum for those who lack access to other means of free expression.

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Copyright (c) 2018. RFE/RL, Inc. Republished with the permission of Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty, 1201 Connecticut Ave NW, Ste 400, Washington DC 20036

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