Freelance journalist Viktor Kokarev held a picket in support of Moscow journalist and municipal deputy Ilya Azar in Syktyvkar on May 29. The activist from the capital was arrested for 15 days a day earlier due to his one-person picket in support of Vladimir Vorontsov, the arrested creator of public page “Police Ombudsman”.
Viktor Kokarev told 7x7 that he had decided to hold the rally because he found the arrests of Azar and Vorontsov "illegal":
- The previous and this day have made it clear that the authorities do not care about freedom of speech and the Constitution. Therefore, I’m holding the picket in solidarity with other journalists and activists including those detained today. It is surprising that nobody has arrested me for this action in Syktyvkar, — the journalist said.
Kokarev unfolded a poster with inscription, "I am/We are Ilya Azar. A one-person picket is not a crime" and the image of the "alternative flag" of the Komi Republic under which all the protest actions of recent years have been held.
The founder of public page "Police Ombudsman" Vladimir Vorontsov was detained on May 7 on suspicion of extorting money from a former police officer in exchange for "non-dissemination of personal photos". A case on extortion on a large scale was opened against him. He was arrested a day later. On May 24, the police detained Igor Khudyakov, the second administrator of the Police Ombudsman Project, in Vologda, later he was also placed under arrest. On May 29, a second case was opened against Vorontsov - illegal making and distribution of pornographic materials.
On May 26, journalist and municipal Deputy Ilya Azar went to the building of the Main Directorate of the Ministry of Internal Affairs of Russia in Moscow to hold a one-person picket in support of Vorontsov and Khudyakov. He was detained and arrested for 15 days on May 28. On the same day, journalists from Echo of Moscow, Mediazona, and Takie Dela held rallies in support of Azar, they were detained and released after completing reports on violating self-isolation and the procedure for conducting a rally. On May 29, police detained more than 30 deputies, journalists, and activists at a new rally in support of Ilya Azar.