No revolution, but plenty of detentions
Mass detentions across Russia came in connection with a November 5, 2017 action put on by the “Artpodgotovka” (“Artillery Preparation”) movement. In 2013, its leader Vycheslav Maltsev had declared November 5 the international day of peaceful revolution, during which people are called to gather on central squares of their cities (first and foremost, on Manezhnaya Square in Moscow) and stay there until the national leadership resigns. Maltsev himself left Russia for France on a political asylum claim, but in the run-up to November 5 he had continued to call people to the streets. A series of arrests of alleged “Artpodgotovka” members in multiple Russian cities began in October, while the movement itself was banned as “extremist”.
On November 5, police and National Guard were brought out to the city center. Manezhnaya Square had been closed. Law enforcement lined Tverskaya Street, while the area around the Revolution Square Metro station was filled up with paddy wagons. Law enforcement checked the documents of passersby on Tverskaya and near the Manezh, while those with bags were searched.
According to data provided by OVD-Info, roughly 300 people were detained in Moscow on the day. Observers from SOVA Center stationed on the Manezh, as well as on Pushkin Square and Tverskaya Street, saw no displays or attempted displays of “Artpodgotovka” symbols, no sloganeering, and no other signs of any “revolutionary” mood. There were, in fact, no crowds in the center, so some groups of teenagers to be seen on any given Sunday afternoon found themselves among the detainees. According to OVD-Info, those detained on Tverskaya included 22 people leaving a conference on Adam Smith. On Pushkin Square, a few Pokémon Go players were detained, as well. Additionally, a few alleged supporters of “Artpodgotovka” were preemptively detained in Moscow without being given a chance to participate in the action.
In central St. Petersburg, about 100 people, including members of the Russian Carriers Union and “Artpodgotovka” activists, gathered at St. Isaac’s Square. No fewer than 20 were detained on the day.
Novosibirsk saw no fewer than 20 detentions on November 5. There were also related detentions in Krasnodar (including of two “Artpodgotovka” activists), Krasnoyarsk, Lobnya (nine activists from the Kaluga branch of PARNAS), Lyubertsy (four alleged Maltsev supporters), Perm (one “Artpodgotovka” activist), Saratov (in the latter, one “Artpodgotovka” activist was detained), and Rostov-on-Don.
According to the data from OVD-Info, at least 448 people were detained on November 5 across Russia in connection with these actions. We are not able to determine, based on these numbers or otherwise, how many detainees are actual “Artpodgotovka” activists or members of the allied movements, the extent to which anyone being on the street actually gathered to participate in a “revolution,” or how many were simply detained by chance.