Filip Kuznetsov, a front-line anti-Putin protester in Russia, spent an entire night crammed into a police van with 17 other protesters because Moscow’s detention centres were all full.
He was among a record 4,002 people arrested across Russia last week, as large crowds took to the streets to demand the release of the opposition politician Alexei Navalny. Further protests have been called for Sunday, threatening to strain the system even further.
“We didn’t sleep all night. One person always had to stand for space, so we took it in turns,” Filip told on Wednesday from the back of the police van, which he described as an “ancient vehicle with metal bars all round”.
“Anyone could be next”
Few protesters mentioned Mr Navalny’s near-fatal poisoning, but all were shocked at how his flight home had been diverted so he could be detained at the border. He then faced a bizarre, makeshift court hearing in a police station.
One poll suggests as many as 42% in the Moscow crowd were moved to protest for the first time. The rallies were also unprecedented in their spread, covering towns and cities usually seen as politically “passive”.