Navalny supporters hold Valentine’s Day vigils in Russia
Women rallies in support of Yulia Navalnaya and other women victims of police repression were also held in Moscow and St. Petersburg.
Supporters of Kremlin critic Alexei Navalny light candles in their backyards across Russia on Sunday, despite warnings they might be arrested..
After police detained thousands of people over the past few weeks at protests against Navalny’s arrest and imprisonment, opposition supporters announced a break in street protests until spring..
At the same time, they urged to show solidarity with Navalny, gathering at their homes on the evening of February 14, light the flashlights of their cell phones and lay out candles in the shape of hearts..
«[President Vladimir] Putin – it is fear. Navalny – this is Love. So we will win», – wrote in «Twitter» one of Navalny’s closest associates, Leonid Volkov, urging people to get together.
Navalny was arrested in January after returning from Germany, where he was receiving treatment after being poisoned in Siberia. According to many Western countries, he was poisoned by a nerve agent. In early February, the court replaced his suspended sentence with a real prison sentence..
Volkov urged people to flood social media with photos of Sunday meetings – a new opposition action reminiscent of political action in neighboring Belarus.
On Sunday, another rally took place on Moscow’s Arbat, this time in support of Navalny’s wife, Yulia, as well as other women who suffered from police repression against the demonstrators..
More than 100 women, mostly between the ages of 20 and 40, formed a human chain, holding on to a white ribbon more than 100 meters long.
The action took place without clashes with the police or arrests. A similar live chain, albeit smaller in size, was formed in St. Petersburg.
Russian law enforcement officials said on Thursday that criminal charges could be brought against participants in unauthorized actions.
Several human rights groups have accused the police of using disproportionate force against protesters in recent weeks. The Kremlin denied police repression, saying the protests were illegal because they were not approved by the authorities and could have contributed to the spread of COVID-19