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Russian authorities disrupt rallies honoring Navalny, detentions reported

by Martin Fornusek February 16, 2024 9:24 PM 2 min read
People leave flowers outside the Russian Embassy in London on Feb. 16, 2024, following the news of the death of Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny. (Daniel Leal/ AFP)
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Editor's note: The number of detained in Saint Petersburg and Moscow has been updated based on the latest information.

Multiple people have been reportedly detained in Russia as the police moved to disrupt events across the country honoring opposition leader Alexei Navalny, who died earlier on Feb. 16.

In Saint Petersburg, the Russian police detained around 20 people who were paying tribute to Navalny at a memorial to victims of political repressions at the Vozkresenskaya embankment, Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty reported.

The city's residents walked several hours to the memorial to lay flowers. At around 9 p.m. local time, the police arrived at the site, saying that the event had not been approved, and began detaining participants, according to the outlet.

The detainees reportedly included journalists Alexey Dushutin from Novaya Gazeta and Elina Kozich from RusNews.

A similar event took place in Moscow near the Solovetsky Stone, a memorial to victims of political repressions at the Lubyanka Square.

Police officers, soldiers, and officers in civilian clothes had arrived at the memorial, detaining at least 10 people, including RusNews journalist Yulia Petrova, local media reported.

A video published on Telegram shows law enforcement officers beating up a Moscow resident who participated in the event, Maxim Sokolov.

Detentions were also reported at events in Navalny's name in other cities, including Tver, Rostov-on-Don, Murmansk, Nizhny Novgorod, and Belgorod.

Russian media reported on Feb. 16 that Navalny died in prison. Navalny was being held in a penal colony in Russia's far northern Yamal-Nenets Autonomous District.

According to the prison service, Navalny supposedly lost consciousness and could not be revived.

The penal colony that Navalny was held in is located in a remote settlement north of the Arctic Circle, with "tough conditions" and limited access to letter delivery, according to Zhdanov, the head of the Anti-Corruption Foundation established by Navalny.

Navalny was previously held in the IK-6 Melekhovo high-security prison in Russia's Vladimir Oblast.

Navalny had been serving a 2.5-year prison sentence since 2021 and a separate 9-year sentence on fraud charges since 2022.

A Russian court also sentenced Navalny to 19 years in a maximum security prison in August 2023 on extremism charges for creating the Anti-Corruption Foundation.

All these cases have been recognized as politically motivated and fabricated by international human rights organizations and governments.

Navalny was poisoned in Russia in 2020 and flown for treatment in Germany. German doctors said he had been poisoned with a Novichok nerve agent — a chemical weapon produced by the Russian government.

The Insider, Bellingcat, CNN, and Der Spiegel published an investigation according to which Navalny had been poisoned by agents of Russia’s Federal Security Service. They also identified the agents' names.

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