The Guardian was predictably enough quick off the mark to produce the anti-Russia propaganda that Russian provocateur Alexei Navalny was aiming for by holding an illegal rally in Moscow.
Russia – a country in which the President and lower chamber of Parliament are elected under constitutional elections monitored in the past by the OSCE – has laws relating to rallies. Organisers of rallies have to seek permission from the authorities. If they hold a rally in an area for which permission has not been granted people who attend the rally can be arrested. There is a penalty for breaking this law.
Alexei Navalny is the leader of a political movement in Russia which is opposed to the current leadership. He is noted for holding illegal and unsanctioned rallies. It is likely he does this in order to produce images of himself and others being arrested – which suits his platform. The Guardian duly obliges.
In this latest incident and the associated ‘coverage’ in the Guardian the Guardian informs its readers that Navalny represents a “minority” in Russia. According to a poll by the Russian Levada polling institute he has the support of around 2% of the population. It may be therefore be quite a small “minority”. (Navalny is a nationalist figure rather than a classic ‘pro-Western’ liberal. His main platform appears to be to be opposed to the “crooks” in United Russia).
The Guardian article also informs its readers:
During the previous rally on 26 March, more than 1,000 people were detained in Moscow alone, including the Guardian journalist Alec Luhn. Most were released after a few hours, but some were given 15-day jail sentences, including Navalny.
A few people have been given more serious jail terms, with one protester sentenced to 18 months in what appears to be an attempt to use random repression to deter people from protesting.
There is no source and no factual basis for this claim at all. We should know we are in the realm of propaganda and “interfering in elections” here. Contrary to the claim about “randomness” made here Russia has a system of laws. A sentence of 18 months could not have been given simply for attendance at an illegal rally. There is a law which makes repeated breach of this law punishable by a long jail sentence. It is possible that this was the case with this 18 month sentence. However; the penalty for a first breach appears to be 15 days.  The information here is wrong and also misleadingly creates the impression that Russian courts just give random sentences. The author of this piece is based in Moscow and will know that he is misleading people.
The piece also explains:
The protest comes as Russia enters an election cycle, with a vote due next March expected to give Putin six more years in the Kremlin. Navalny, a lawyer turned anti-corruption campaigner, has announced his intention to stand, though few expect him to be allowed on to the ballot.
This is entirely misleading. It gives the impression that whether or not Navalny will be “allowed to stand” will be down to an arbitrary decision by the authorities. In fact Navalny has been convicted in Russia of corruption (a fact missing from this article). This article on RT explains that under Russian law because he is still serving a suspended sentence Navalny will not be permitted under Russian law to stand. A result of the rule of law is presented here as an act of arbitrary authority. This of course feeds into the narrative of an ‘oppressive, authoritarian regime’ which large sections of the Western press wish to tell. But is is fake. It is of course possible to argue that Russian law is applied somewhat selectively and in favour of the authorities. But this piece doesn’t attempt that. It simply misleads.
This Guardian article is written by Shaun Walker – one of the Guardian’s resident propaganda writers based in Moscow. Mr Walker is lying and demonstrably so. This is our discussion of an example of Mr Walker’s propaganda on the situation in Ukraine.
Mr Walker may have written this propaganda because he knows that this is what the Guardian wants and he, Mr Walker, wants to keep his job. Quite why the Guardian does this is not 100% clear. Most of the Western press is owned by finance capital. Finance capital has a strong motive to overturn the current nationalist system of rule in Russia – with its irritating restrictions on inward foreign investment. It is hardly surprising then that the Western press is used in a propaganda role to undermine that nationalist system of rule. But the Guardian is a slightly curious case. It is owned by a Trust which is simply in the business of producing the Guardian. With the Guardian it appears to be something personal and ideological. They hate “Putin”. It may be because Putin’s Russia is not one which is especially favourable to the culture of hedonism, gender reassignment, “marriage equality” etc. which seems to have become the main credo of the kind of liberal media classes who work at the Guardian.
Finally; before falling for the story here about “Kremlin repression” – don’t forget that the UK has pretty strict laws about what happens in public spaces. (Some of which is critiqued by the Manifesto Club here). Including legislation which permits local authorities to ban groups of 2 or more people gathering in a space. We could ask why the Guardian is so keen to produce these pieces of theatre about Russia but has relatively little to say about the situation in the UK.