Belgium (Brussels Morning Newspaper) Jailed Kremlin critic and opposition figure Alexei Navalny today called on Russians to engage in daily protests against President Vladimir Putin’s invasion of Ukraine.
“We cannot wait even a day longer”, he said in a Twitter statement published by his spokesperson. “Wherever you are. In Russia, Belarus or on the other side of the planet. Go out onto the main square of your city every weekday at 19.00 and at 14.00 at weekends and on holidays.”
Navalny said that few people today would call Russia “a nation of peace”, even though that was what it aspired to be. He urged Russians not to become “a nation of frightened silent people, of cowards who pretend not to notice the aggressive war against Ukraine unleashed by our obviously insane tsar.”
More than 6,800 people have been arrested in Russia since 24 February for protesting against the war in Ukraine, with the police quickly picking up anyone seen holding up signs with anti-war messages. Kremlin-controlled media refuse to refer to the conflict between Ukraine and Russia as “war” or an “invasion”, persistently calling it a “special military operation”. Dissenting media ignoring this rule are being shut down.
Navalny was arrested in January last year after returning from Germany, where he was treated for poisoning believed to be inflicted by Russian intelligence operatives. Even though Putin permitted his transfer to Germany for treatment, he was detained upon return for supposedly violating the terms of his suspended sentence – failing to report to Moscow authorities regularly.
He was previously handed a 3.5 year suspended sentence for an alleged embezzlement case, in a trial subsequently dismissed by the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) as unlawful and politically motivated. That sentence served as a pretext for his current incarceration.