February 22, 2024

Flowers and Handcuffs for Navalny


Flowers and Handcuffs for Navalny
Flowers left for Navalny in Moscow. SotaVision, Telegram.

On February 16 and 17, makeshift memorials and protests for Russian opposition leader and anti-corruption activist Alexei Navalny sprung up across Russia and the world.

In Moscow, police pushed protestors away from the "Wall of Grief" and detained anyone carrying banners. Mourners also gathered at the Muzeon Park's monument of the repressed, but police threw all flowers into the snow.

In St. Petersburg, Archbishop Grigory Mikhnov-Vaitenko was set to celebrate a civil funeral for Navalny at the Solovetsky Stone. As the cleric was leaving his house, he was arrested. The ceremony carried on without him, but attendees were arrested.

Yekaterinburg woke up to graffiti commemorating the late Navalny. Arrests in connection with Navalny memorials have also been documented in Arkhangelsk, Kazan, Krasnodar, Novosibirsk, and Skytyvkar, among other cities. Flowers for the Russian opposition leader have even been laid in annexed Luhansk.

In London, residents left bouquets and signs that read, "You can kill Navalny but not the opposition, we are here" and "Not all heroes wear capes." In Helsinki, Paris, and Lisbon, candles were accompanied by signs with the words "Don't give up," a signature phrase of the Russian opposition leader. Portraits of Navalny stood firmly in Almaty, Amsterdam, Bishkek, Riga, Tokyo, Vilnius, and Yerevan. In Turin, mourners waved blue and white flags and carried a sign in Italian that read, "Putin is a War Criminal." Rallies for Navalny were organized in cities in Argentina, Austria, Belgium, the Czech Republic, Georgia, Germany, Poland, Serbia, and the United States, among others. 

In Tashkent, Uzbekistan, mourners were allowed to leave flowers but were quickly dispersed by security forces. Despite Turkey's NATO membership, Istanbul police did not allow protests for Navalny; four people protesting in front of the Russian consulate were detained, but mourners left floral arrangements and commemorative cards at a memorial for Mehmet Ayvalıtaş, a twenty-year-old killed by a taxi during anti-government protests in 2013. Police quickly removed all objects from the scene.

Navalny, who appeared in good health in a Russian court hearing on February 15, died after falling ill during a walk in the Kharp Prison complex the next day. Nearly 400 mourners have so far been arrested in Russia at the time of this writing.

Navalny's body has not yet been returned to his family. The Russian president has not commented on Navalny's death.

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