Russia’s Putin Faces Rising Discontent Amid Alexei Navalny Protests

MOSCOW—The protests that swept Russia this weekend in assistance of jailed opposition leader Alexei Navalny display the challenge President Vladimir Putin faces in managing social discontent forward of parliamentary elections this 12 months.

Saturday’s unsanctioned rallies were being amongst the greatest in current a long time and noticed tens of countless numbers of individuals brave freezing temperatures, the risk of the pandemic and the probability of incarceration. Safety forces detained more than three,five hundred people—the greatest variety in at least 9 a long time, in accordance to impartial screens.

The protests have left the Kremlin dealing with a dilemma: Both bow to the tension from the avenue and undermine its own authority by releasing Mr. Navalny or risk inciting more backlash and unifying the opposition by keeping him at the rear of bars.

“There are few excellent solutions for Putin,” claimed Abbas Gallyamov, a Moscow-based mostly political guide and previous speechwriter for Mr. Putin. “It looks like Navalny is attacking and the Kremlin is defending.”

Mr. Putin’s approval rankings have swooned in current a long time amid a sluggish economic system and protest action. Observers say the Navalny demonstrations, if sustained, could pose a risk to Mr. Putin’s dominance despite constitutional modifications authorized past 12 months that could make it possible for him to continue to be in energy until 2036.