Supporters of imprisoned Russian opposition chief Alexei Navalny staged a Valentine’s Day flashmob protest by waving lights as an emblem of discontent with the authorities which have waged a harsh crackdown on road rallies.
A high Navalny aide, Leonid Volkov, had urged supporters to exit into the yards of condo buildings at 8 pm Sunday and maintain up telephone flashlights or different lights for a couple of minutes, after saying that the opposition was suspending additional road rallies till spring.
“Putin made fear his sole weapon,” Volkov mentioned. “We have to overcome this fear. We have to carry out a protest action that riot police can’t stop and that anyone can join.”
President Vladimir Putin mentioned he can perceive why folks assist the latest rallies, in line with his meeting with the chief editors of main media retailers broadcast on state tv Sunday.
“Irritation is growing, there are many problems, there is not enough money,” Putin mentioned. He referred to Navalny solely as a “figure” that was being utilized by Europe, the US and different international locations to destabilize Russia.
The flashmob, which organizers name “Love is more powerful than fear,” began within the Russian Far East, Volkov mentioned in his Twitter put up, exhibiting a photograph of a gaggle of individuals with the lights on the Bering Island. Navalny’s staff accounts posted comparable pictures from Petropavlovsk-Kamchatsky and different Far East areas.
Navalny himself solely posted a photograph together with his spouse, Yulia, on Instagram, with the message: “I love you. And all the jokes I make in the courts, I make only for you to laugh in the first row.”
Russia has 11 time zones, so the occasion ought to attain the capital, Moscow, in a number of hours. The organizers didn’t have data on how many individuals took half within the flashmob to date.
Riot police detained greater than 11,000 when protesters took to the streets in dozens of cities on Jan. 23 and 31. The largest nationwide protests in a decade got here after police detained Navalny when he returned to Moscow final month from Berlin, the place he’d been recovering from a nerve-agent poisoning that he and Western governments blamed on Putin’s safety service. The Kremlin denies duty.
The flashmob takes place because the European Union works on a proposal to sanction Russia over the imprisonment of Navalny, in line with two folks conversant in the discussions. A Moscow courtroom jailed the opposition chief for two years and eight months Feb. 2 for breaching probation phrases from a 2014 fraud conviction whereas he was recovering in Germany.
Navalny’s allies have urged the EU, the UK and the US to sanction 35 high Russian officers and business figures near the Kremlin. Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov warned Friday that Russia is able to break off ties with the EU if the bloc imposes sanctions that harm the nation’s economic system.