DISINFO: Russian police handles protesters humanely compared to French and American police
West Alexei Navalny Protest

DISINFO: Russian police handles protesters humanely compared to French and American police


For the protesting youth, the demonstrations are an exciting game during which the demonstrators have never faced any serious consequences. The police does not hit them with batons, nor do they disperse them with tear gas. They do not appreciate how the Russian government treats them humanely, at least when compared to the suppression of protests in the USA or France. Most of the detainees are simply transferred to the police station, where they are charged with a small fine for an administrative offense, and then released. Many of them have even managed to return to the same demonstrations from which the police had just taken them.


ِA pro-Kremlin disinformation narrative about the recent anti-government protests in Russia.

The claim deliberately confounds, on the one hand, legal restrictions on violent public behaviour in some Western states and, on the other, the quasi-legal concept of "unsanctioned rally" which the Russian state routinely invokes as an excuse to crack down on peaceful protests. The arbitrary use of this provision runs contrary to international judicial precedent (see pp. 6-18), reports and opinions issued by international bodies (e.g. UN Human Rights Council pp. 7-13; Venice Commission pp. 18-26; OSCE pp. 15-21), and Russia's own constitution (Art. 31).

None of the countries mentioned in the claim have legislation stipulating prison time for peaceful protesters. In France, a term of up to six months can only be given to repeat violent offenders who ignore a prohibition to attend public demonstrations; in the US, police may not break up a gathering unless there is a clear and present danger of riot, disorder, interference with traffic, or other immediate threat to public safety, according to the First Amendment.

There is ample evidence that the law enforcement response to the demonstrations was excessive, with numerous instances of unprovoked police brutality. OVD-Info, a Russian human rights NGO, reports that a record 3,500 people were detained by 24 January. In a comprehensive account of police violence including severe beatings, arbitrary arrests, and targeting of journalists, Human Rights Watch says:

"The unprecedented detentions and extreme police brutality across Russia are evidence of how low human rights standards have plummeted in the country."

The European Union condemned the crackdown on Alexei Navalny's supporters, mass detentions and police brutality during the protests. The EU has repeatedly called on Russia for Navalny's immediate release.

See a similar case that reports of police brutality during Russia protests are Western propaganda.


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Cases in the EUvsDisinfo database focus on messages in the international information space that are identified as providing a partial, distorted, or false depiction of reality and spread key pro-Kremlin messages. This does not necessarily imply, however, that a given outlet is linked to the Kremlin or editorially pro-Kremlin, or that it has intentionally sought to disinform. EUvsDisinfo publications do not represent an official EU position, as the information and opinions expressed are based on media reporting and analysis of the East Stratcom Task Force.

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