June 05, 2023

Blowing Out Candles for Navalny


Blowing Out Candles for Navalny
A protester with a sign reading "Freedom to Alexey Navalny" being detained by police. Srbija Evropa, Twitter.

In a rare public protest in Russia, demonstrators gathered across Russia and other parts of the world to celebrate activist Alexey Navalny's 47th birthday and to demand the release of all political prisoners. In 2022, Navalny was sentenced to nine years in prison.

In Moscow's Pushkinskaya Square, protesters arrived with birthday balloons, wearing T-shirts that read "Take Care of Russia" and SHIZO – the abbreviation for solitary confinement in Russia. In St. Petersburg, a runner posed with a medal and a jersey, wishing the enjailed activist a happy birthday. Walls across the country were spraypainted with "Freedom to Navalny."

Police quickly arrested protesters, and over 100 persons were detained, half of them in Moscow.

Celebrations for Navalny's 47th birthday were also held outside Russia – calling for the release of political prisoners and an end to Russia's invasion of Ukraine – in Tbilisi (Georgia), Erevan (Armenia), and Vilnius (Lithuania), as well as Sydney (Australia), Buenos Aires (Argentina), and the US.

The day before the demonstrations, Navalny thanked his supporters on Telegram and reflected on his experience in solitary confinement: "Any job has an unpleasant part, right? Now I'm living through a bad part of my favorite job."

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