Russia: Use of force by police in Bashkortostan protests should be investigated

Reacting to the dispersal of a mostly peaceful demonstration in Baymak (Republic of Bashkortostan, southern Russia) against the sentencing of civil activist Fail Alsynov and the subsequent initiation of criminal proceedings against the protesters, Denis Krivosheev, Amnesty International’s Eastern Europe and Central Asia Deputy Director, said:

“The evidence we have suggests that unnecessary force was used against these protesters. The clashes were apparently provoked after the police, equipped with high-grade protective gear, attempted to deny local people their right to peacefully assemble. There are videos posted on social media channels of protesters responding with snowballs to the police’s use of tear gas and other heavy-handed tactics.”

“The criminal charges against the protesters, and the authorities’ claim that they were responding to mass riots, appear to be entirely baseless. This situation demands an urgent and impartial investigation into the conduct of the police, including the use of less-lethal weapons against protesters, and the immediate release of all peaceful protesters wrongfully detained or arrested in connection with these events.”


Mass protests erupted in Baymak on 15 January 2024 in support of Fail Alsynov who had been on trial for ‘inciting ethnic hatred’ and who was found guilty on 17 January and sentenced to four years in a penal colony. The demonstrations intensified following the verdict, leading to arrests and confrontations near the courthouse. Riot police reportedly used batons against the crowd of several thousand people, who responded by throwing snowballs, gloves, hats, and throwing back the police’s batons. There were reports of chemical irritants, smoke and stun grenades being used against the protestors. However, at present, Amnesty International does not have sufficient evidence of the specific circumstances of their use.

A criminal case was initiated under Articles 212 (“mass riots”) and 318 (“use of violence against a representative of authority”) of Russia’s Criminal Code. Between 17 and 19 January, 17 people have been put under “administrative arrest” for terms ranging from 10 to 13 days for participating in an “unauthorized mass gathering,” under Russia’s unduly restrictive legislation on assemblies which requires express prior permission from the authorities.