Young people dance with their cellphone flashlights to support imprisoned opposition leader Alexei Navalny and his wife Yulia Navalnaya near Moscow’s Red Square on Sunday. Alexander Zemlianichenko / AP Hide caption
Alexander Zemlianichenko / AP
Alexander Zemlianichenko / AP
After cracking down on protests in Russia, the allies of Kremlin critic Alexei Navalny encouraged supporters to engage in a subdued form of solidarity and defiance.
Navalny supporters gathered near their homes and in apartment courtyards for Valentine’s Day vigils, an act called “love is stronger than fear” for the imprisoned opposition leader. They were encouraged to gather outdoors for 15 minutes and post their participation on social media.
Scenes from the day showed people showing the lights on their cell phones and arranging candles in hearts. Navalny’s Twitter account retweeted pictures of supporters who have gathered across Moscow.
Other Pictures on social media Reuters reports vigils across Russia, from the eastern Siberian city of Irkutsk to Yekaterinburg near the Ural Mountains and Novosibirsk in western Siberia.
The vigils were small and sporadic compared to the massive recent protests. It is also unclear how many people participated.
During other actions on Sunday, several hundred women formed a human chain in Moscow to support Navalny’s wife Julia and other women affected by the raids. Another 100 formed a chain in St. Petersburg Agence France-Presse reports.
Russian authorities tried to quash the protests, and officials who went on Kremlin-backed television networks accused Navalny’s allies of acting on NATO orders. According to The Associated Press, state news outlets, citing unnamed sources, reported that a terrorist group was training insurgents for possible attacks in Russian cities “at mass rally locations”.
Previously, the Kremlin had avoided mentioning Navalny and the protests he led were not covered in official media channels.
Navalny was arrested on his return from Germany, where he recovered for months after barely surviving poisoning. Navalny and investigative journalists reported on it Agents of the Russian Federal Security Service were responsible.
On February 2nd he was sentenced two years and eight months in prison for violating probationary conditions from a 2014 conviction. He is also charged with defamation, which he has described as politically motivated.
Protests against his detention have been going on for weeks in the country, leading to a crackdown that has resulted in more than 10,000 arrests.
Russia has insisted that public events “not approved” by the state are illegal and could increase the spread of the coronavirus.
The protests and raids have also contributed to friction for Russia at the international level.
Russia was recently expelled three European diplomats After claiming they took part in pro-navalny demonstrations. Last week, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said Russia would do so break off relations with the European Union when the EU imposes economic sanctions for the detention of Navalny.
“We don’t want to isolate ourselves from global life, but we have to be prepared for it. If you want peace, prepare for war,” Lavrov said in the interview published on a YouTube channel of the Russian Foreign Ministry.