On 2 February 2021, several thousand demonstrators rallied at Manezhnaya Square in front of the Kremlin in central Moscow and at the Moscow City Court northeast of the city center where prominent opposition activist Alexei Navalny was being tried for parole violations. Police officers detained over 1,000 people throughout the course of the day. In some cases, police officers beat demonstrators, and in at least one instance, a journalist. Reports indicate that police officers also conducted document checks and photographed passports of everyone entering Kuznetsky Most metro station, which is near Manezhnaya Square. In the evening, squads of police officers deployed to arrest demonstrators on Moscow’s major roads and squares and shut down metro access to the Kremlin. A similar protest drew several hundred demonstrators in St. Petersburg and resulted in at least 150 more arrests.

Analyst Comment: The court sentenced Navalny to serve the remaining two years and eight months of his suspended sentence in a penal colony. Navalny has been in custody since 17 January, when he returned to Moscow from Germany where he was recovering after being poisoned by a nerve agent developed in the former Soviet Union. Demonstrations are likely to continue in the near term and individuals with interests in Moscow should monitor the situation closely.