Earlier on Saturday as pro-Navalny protests began "sweeping across Russia" - as CNN dubiously put it (which have not numbered more than in the thousands in any one place) - we asked the question: are we witnessing the start of a manufactured 'color revolution' targeting Putin and the ruling government under the banner of the Navalny 'nerve agent' saga?
Of course, it's too early to tell. But already on 'day one' of major protests across several Russian cities the US Embassy in Moscow is highlighting the protests and their locations on its website. While ostensibly the embassy is directing citizens to "avoid" these demonstrations, given the possibility of violence, the State Department-sponsored public notice lists in surprisingly specific detail the location and times of a dozen protests in large cities.
Russia's foreign ministry is livid, and has charged the US Embassy with giving unnecessary "cover" to the 'unauthorized' protests. Essentially the Kremlin is alleging that the 'notification' is a US Embassy ploy to actually publicize and promote the protests.
#Hypocrisy is an instrument of American democracy, which has become especially dangerous during the #COVID19 pandemic.— MFA Russia 🇷🇺 (@mfa_russia) January 23, 2021
☝️ See to your own problems and stop interfering in domestics affairs of other countries. pic.twitter.com/7bQbBJRr8m
Here's the full Russian foreign ministry response to the provocative US Embassy webpage as featured in TASS:
Russia plans to view the attempts of the US embassy in Moscow to "cover" the unauthorized rallies in Russia as interference in internal affairs, the Russian Foreign Ministry wrote on its Telegram channel on Friday.
"All that coincides with Washington’s provocative doctrinal guidelines to encourage ‘protests in the countries with unwanted governments’," the Foreign Ministry said. "Any attempts of this ‘coverage’ of unauthorized rallies will be regarded as gross interference in our country’s domestic affairs and will lead to a corresponding response."
The Russian Foreign Ministry pointed out that the information, posted on the US embassy’s site, on the time and venues for the unsanctioned rallies goes beyond concern for US nationals in Russia.
Under the pretext of "avoiding " the planned for today anti-government meetings in Russia , US Embassy published the exact times & locations of the planned meetings, as a guide where actually the riots are expected. https://t.co/rGGw3scRrj— Elena Evdokimova (@elenaevdokimov7) January 23, 2021
How do they know, where & when, btw? https://t.co/1eMtvPo2hQ
The chaotic scene in central Moscow on Saturday after jailed Kremlin critic Alexei Navalny called on supporters to take the streets...
Мирный протест, ага. Не понимаю, почему парни должны рисковать здоровьем в этом зоопарке? Есть же спецсредства pic.twitter.com/tPbgVHSRIm— Дегтярёв Леонид (@leon_elk) January 23, 2021
Below is the remarkably detailed information posted to the US Embassy in Moscow's website.
The "Demonstration Alert" provided the list of planned protests a full day ahead of the demonstrations actually taking place.
* * *
In Moscow, demonstrators plan to gather near Pushkin Square at approximately 1400 and march towards the Kremlin.
In St. Petersburg, demonstrators plan to gather near Senate Square at approximately 1400 and march towards Gostiny Dvor (located on Nevsky Avenue).
In Yekaterinburg, demonstrators plan to gather at the entrance to Dinamo Stadium, 12 Ulitsa Yeryomina at approximately 1400 and march along the embankment of the city lake toward the Drama Theater.
In Perm, demonstrators plan to gather at the intersection of Komsomolskiy Prospekt and Ulitsa Poliny Osipenko at approximately 1400 and march towards Komsomolskiy Prospekt and some other central streets.
In Chelyabinsk, demonstrators plan to gather at Slavy Boulevard at approximately 1400 and march towards Lenin Prospekt to Kurchatov Monument.
In Krasnoyarsk, demonstrators plan to gather in Krasnaya (Red) Square at approximately 1400 and march towards the downtown area.
In Novosibirsk, demonstrators plan to gather at 63 Krasny Prospekt, near House of Officers at approximately 1400 and march towards Lenin Square.
In Omsk, demonstrators plan to gather at Leningrad Square, at the intersection of Karla Marksa Prospekt and Ulitsa Maslennikova at approximately 1400 and march towards Sobornaya (Cathedral) Square.
In Vladivostok, demonstrators plan to gather at the Fighters for Soviet Power Monument on Svetlanskaya Street at 1400.
In Khabarovsk, demonstrators plan to gather at Lenin Square at 1200.
In Ulan Ude, demonstrators plan to gather at Teatralnaya Square at 1400.
In Irkutsk, demonstrators plan to gather at the Square on Ulitsa Uritskogo on the square near the consumer services center “Dom Byta”
* * *
Time for another US-sponsored Color Revolution in Eastern Europe?
Russian authorities arresting peaceful protesters, journalists - appears to be concerted campaign to suppress free speech, peaceful assembly. This continues years of Russia tightening restrictions, repressive actions against civil society, independent media, political opposition.— Rebecca Ross (@USEmbRuPress) January 23, 2021
Russians are taking to the streets today in the freezing cold to peacefully demand freedom, human rights for all their citizens, an end to corruption, and the immediate release of Alexei @Navalny.— Adam Schiff (@RepAdamSchiff) January 23, 2021
I stand with them. The United States, and the world, must stand with them, too. https://t.co/OtKebHgMBm
He's back. pic.twitter.com/90zhypFeap— 38Parrots (@Parrots38) January 23, 2021
Many commentators have pointed out that if the Russian Embassy in Washington D.C. had done the same thing related to either pro-Trump or BLM protests at any point, US leaders would explode in anger and there'd be a flood of the usual denunciations of "Russian interference".