On January 17, after a long recovery in Germany from the near-fatal attack on his life using the nerve agent “Novichok”, Russian opposition leader and activist Alexei Navalny returned to Moscow. Upon his arrival, he was immediately detained at Sheremetyevo Airport because of the fake “Yves Rocher” case.
After Navalny was ordered to remain in custody for 30 days, his Anti-Corruption Foundation (FBK), which criticizes the Kremlin and investigates and exposes corruption cases among high-ranking Russian government officials, released a new video investigation “Putin’s palace. History of world’s largest bribe” on YouTube, about a huge luxury Black Sea palace based in Gelendzhik, allegedly associated with large corruption schemes. The video has proven immensely popular; to date more than 111 million people have watched it.
The Kremlin called it a “pseudo-investigation”, and Putin called it “boring”, rejecting all claims that the mansion belongs to him and his close relatives.
The arrest of Alexei Navalny and his subsequent sentence to 3 1/2 years in a penal colony by a Moscow court, the video about Putin’s palace and the lack of dialogue between the authorities and the people resulted in mass protests throughout Russia. Not only Navalny’s supporters took to the streets, but also all those who are not indifferent and tired of the authority’s deception.
Police responded with force to the peaceful protests, and thousands were detained for participating in unauthorised rallies.
The police demonstrated their strength not only in numbers, but also in vicious tactics. In a number of videos, we can see people peacefully protesting, and not resisting arrest. Nevertheless, the police used stun guns against them. There were also reports of tear gas having been used in St. Petersburg.
We, the youth democratic movement “Vremya”, who campaign for a democratic, free and progressive Russia, can’t stand by the lawlessness of the police and the impunity of the authorities. Our activists participated in rallies all over the country, including in St. Petersburg.
But we do more than protest. We set up an online shop with protest merch — a clothing line, from our online store Protestore. We think that protest merch is a great opportunity to be outraged in a stylish and bold way, to share this outrage with everybody, and to try to not be alone in this experience.
This is just another peaceful form of protest. We believe that by wearing our T-shirts or hoodies, people spread the idea of freedom, which can eventually change reality.
In relation to the latest FBK film we made T-shirts and hoodies “Aquadiscoteca”, about the lounge area in the Putin’s palace.
We send 5% of each sold item as a donation to human rights or charitable organizations.