New "Red Button" App Intended to Protect Russians After Illegal Arrests

In Russia, it's called "Red Button",   and thousands of users have already installed it on their Android and iOS phones as insurance against being arrested by pro-Putin forces.   According to developer Alexander Litreev, the software in the app allows users to record the time and place of arrest as well as automatically identifying the police station where the user is formally booked.  Users can also pre-select friends and family members to be notified as well as contacting human rights organizations that can provide legal assistance.   On Twitter, Red Button also broadcasts the locations of mass arrests to allow other users to avoid these "hotspots."  

In a recent blog post, Litreev said that he developed Red Button to become an “all-Russian system for monitoring illegal arrests” as well as to ensure protesters are not “left one-on-one with the arbitrariness and lawlessness of law enforcement agencies.”  As the "Open Russia" movement continues to plan peaceful rallies across Russia, opportunities to test out Red Button are becoming more common.   During anti-Putin protests on April 29,  Red Button announced the first arrests Kemerovo and St. Petersburg with reports coming in from other cities as well.   While false alarms remain common, Red Button's security measures are becoming more accurate and a new, improved version is expected in time for mass rallies planned this coming June.  

The rallies are in support for outspoken activist Alexei Navalny.   As he continues to battle for his right to run for president despite being barred due to a prior conviction, Navalny is openly challenging Vladimir Putin and the political unrest this is creating will likely lead to many more opportunities for Russians to put Red Button to the test.

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