Thousands of participants and dozens of arrests: rallies in defense of free Internet were held in several Russian cities on March, 10. The protesters were demonstrating against the isolation of Runet, the Russian segment of the World Wide Web.
“Hands off the Internet!” was the major slogan of Sunday’s rally in Moscow.
According to the White Counter, around 15,500 persons passed through metal detector gates.
Protesters in Moscow:
“I am protesting against cutting off the Internet, against Putin’s regime, lawlessness, hypocrisy, lying, stealing, corruption!”
“We need democratization and liberalization. We want them to pay a close heed to us and have feedback.”
“I know that they do not have even a dog’s chance to limit the Russian Internet. They will simply be laundering our money on it.”
The protests were caused by the authorities’ intention to adopt a law on the autonomy of the Russian segment of the Internet because of ‘external threats and attacks of the West’. In addition, a few days ago the Russian State Duma passed the law regarding ‘fake news’ and ‘disrespect for authorities’. Now any content that security forces call ‘unwanted’ will be blocked, even without a court order.
“Look, there in nothing but tyranny and crackdown on the freedom of speech. And they have the brass to tell us that we are beggars, idlers, lazy dogs, and that is why we do not deserve pensions,” Russian activist Natalia Ponomarenko said.
Ahead of the rally, the Moscow police detained people carrying balloons, which, according to them, are ‘unmanned aerial vehicle’. In total, police officers grabbed about three dozen people.
Residents of other Russian cities also expressed their disgruntlement over the current situation. For example, in Naberezhnye Chelny unknown individuals installed a makeshift tombstone to the Russian leader bearing the inscription: ‘Putin has buried free Internet – residents of Naberezhnye Chelny have buried Putin’.