Home World Arrests, vigils, and Kremlin silence: Russia marks Alexey Navalny’s death

Arrests, vigils, and Kremlin silence: Russia marks Alexey Navalny’s death

by admin

The death of Alexey Navalny has been met with an outpouring of grief across the world, and even inside Russia – where the smallest acts of political dissent carry great risk – people have been honoring his memory.

Russians have been turning out at makeshift memorials, with hundreds reportedly detained in the largest wave of arrests at political events in the country in two years.

In contrast to the public, Russian state media has largely ignored his death.

Navalny, the 47-year-old fierce critic of Russian President Vladimir Putin, died on Friday after becoming unwell on a walk at his prison and falling unconscious, according to the Russian prison service. The cause of his death is unclear and his team have accused the authorities of lying in order to delay the process of returning his body to his family.

The incident sparked protests worldwide, with many gathering outside Russian embassies in European capital cities including Berlin and Paris, waving banners reading “Putin is a killer” and “Putin to the Hague.”

In Russia, protests need authorization from government officials. The prosecutor’s office in Moscow warned that any demonstrations in the capital over the death of Navalny were forbidden.

Still, crowds attended vigils and rallies. At events across the country, people paid their respects to Navalny, laying down flowers and carrying posters, social media and news agency videos show.

Even this, apparently, seemed too much for authorities, with video showing police carrying some attendees into police vans.

In Moscow, people brought flowers to the Wall of Grief, a memorial to the victims of former Soviet leader Josef Stalin, video from independent outlet SOTA’s Telegram channel showed.

About 50 people had gathered at the Wall of Grief for a rally in memory of Navalny Saturday before police began to drive people away from the monument, the independent news outlet Mozhem Obyasnit (MO) reported.

In the Siberian city of Novosibirsk on Friday, police detained activists grieving for Navalny and cordoned off the memorial dedicated to the victims of political repression, SOTA reported.

Since Navalny’s death more than 366 people have been detained, according to OVD-Info, an independent Russian human rights group that monitors Russian repression.

More than 200 detentions occurred in St Petersburg alone, the organization said. There were detentions in 32 different cities in total, including Murmansk, Moscow, Rostov-on-Don and Nizhny Novgorod. OVD-Info reported that some detainees were released, though it’s unclear how many.

Meanwhile, the hundreds of flowers and candles laid in Moscow were mostly taken away overnight on Saturday in black bags, Reuters reported.

The wave of arrests marks the largest in Russia since September 2022, when there were demonstrations against Russian President Vladimir Putin’s “partial mobilization” of reservists for his war in Ukraine.

One 36-year-old man who laid a carnation at the Solovetsky Stone, a monument on Lubyanka Square in Moscow, spoke to Reuters from the shelter of an underpass.

“Navalny’s death is terrible: hopes have been smashed,” he said.

“Navalny was a very serious man, a brave man and now he is no longer with us. He spoke the truth – and that was very dangerous because some people didn’t like the truth.”

Other Muscovites’ reactions varied. One Moscow resident, Alexander, told Reuters he thought Navalny’s death was “expected.”

“The news said he was being kept in bad conditions that weren’t fit to live in,” he said.

Navalny was jailed after returning to Russia in 2021 from Germany, where he had been treated after being poisoned with Novichok, a Soviet-era nerve agent. On arrival, Navalny was swiftly arrested on charges he dismissed as politically motivated.

Navalny has been incarcerated ever since, with longstanding concerns for his welfare growing more intense after he was transferred to a penal colony north of the Arctic Circle. He spent his last weeks in the Siberian prison, where he said he slept under a newspaper for warmth.

Another Moscow resident, Mikhail, said he believed “enemies” of Russia “should be dealt with the sooner the better.”

There have been reports of those detained being beaten.

OVD-info reported that one young man was detained after laying flowers in Surgut, western Siberia, and told lawyers from the group that he was beaten at the police station.

He also claimed that officers held a gun to his head, forced him to lie on the floor and stretched his arms up, demanding he confess why he brought the flowers, according to OVD-info.

MO said there were two cases of beatings during arrest, in Moscow and St. Petersburg.

State media silence

Navalny’s death made headlines around the world.

On some of Russia’s state media channels, however, reports of Navalny’s death have been scant.

News channel Russia-24 did not offer any on-air reports in the hours after his death was announced, nor was it mentioned in the channel’s news ticker. It instead reported on the latest situation in the border town of Belgorod – which has seen deadly Ukrainian shelling – and Putin’s visit to the city of Chelyabinsk.

Russia’s Channel One first reported on Navalny’s death at just before 3 p.m. local time, reading out a statement from Russia’s prison services which took 25 seconds of airtime. No image of Navalny was aired.

A commentator on propaganda channel Soloviev Live claimed that Navalny’s death was orchestrated by the CIA and would be used by the West as ammunition against Russia.

The claims follow condemnation from Russia’s foreign ministry over the West’s response to Navalny’s death.

In a statement on social media, Russia’s Foreign Ministry Spokesperson Maria Zakharova said the reaction from NATO leaders – many of whom pointed the figure directly at Putin – “reveals their true colours.”

“There is no forensic examination yet, but the West’s conclusions are already ready.”

None of the media reports offered contextual information on Navalny, who posed one of the most serious threats to Putin during his rule, organized anti-government street protests and used his blog and social media to expose alleged corruption in the Kremlin and in Russian business. The Kremlin has denied the allegations.

And there has been no comment yet from Putin himself, although that is unsurprising. The Russian leader has consistently refused to even name the man who became one of his most high-profile opponents.

This post appeared first on cnn.com

You may also like