Thousands of people gathered in Bashkortostan in Russia’s Ural region on Monday to protest against the prosecution of a local activist, in what is being hailed as Russia’s biggest public protest since the start of the war in Ukraine, Telegram channel Kushtay Bairam reported.
The former leader of a now-dissolved group that promoted Bashkir language and culture, Fail Alsynov was charged with inciting ethnic hatred for allegedly making statements “containing negative assessments about Caucasian, Central Asian, and Armenian ethnic groups”.
Alsynov denies the charges, stressing that his statement, which was made in Bashkir, was incorrectly interpreted. The state prosecutor has requested a four-year sentence.
“According to updated data there were around 5,000 people at the protest. Around 2,500 to 3,000 people were on the street, and practically the same number were in their cars,” Telegram channel Agentstvo reported.
As well as Alsynov’s release, protestors demanded the resignation of Radiy Khabirov, the head of the Republic of Bashkortostan, who asked Russia’s Investigative Committee to open the case against the activist.
The court postponed the announcement of Alsynov’s verdict until Wednesday.