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Several arrests at commemorations in Russia

People laid flowers in several Russian cities to commemorate the attack on Ukraine and the late Kremlin critic Navalny. A rather quiet protest, but there were arrests.

In Russia, several people were arrested at commemorative events. The independent portal OVD-Info listed 32 arrests in nine cities in the afternoon. There were protests on various topics, it said.

On its social media channels, OVD writes, “27 people laid flowers in memory of Alexei Navalny, three protested against the war, and two others were arrested during the action by the wives of those mobilized.” Some of those arrested had their phones taken away. Four journalists are also among those affected. There were arrests in Moscow as well as in Yekaterinburg, Kazan, Murmansk, Novosibirsk, St. Petersburg and other cities.

At least five people were arrested in the capital Moscow for carrying signs saying “No to war” or taking part in a weekly demonstration demanding the return of mobilized Russian soldiers from Ukraine. Police also arrested a young woman who was laying flowers in the Ukrainian national colors of blue and yellow at a Moscow monument to victims of political repression.

Videos show arrests

In videos from the independent media Sota and Sotavision on the online service Telegram you could see police officers taking people away. Two of those arrested wore yellow vests with the words “Press” crossed out. Sotavison said two of her reporters were among those arrested.

The wives and partners of soldiers deployed in Ukraine have been demonstrating on Red Square in Moscow for several weeks as part of the women's organization “Put Domoi” (“Way Home”) for the return of their relatives. The organization had used online networks to call for protests at midday in several cities. While the authorities have increasingly taken action against dissidents since the Russian offensive in Ukraine began in February 2022, the police have not yet intervened in the women's protests.

Public criticism is rare in Russia

At the Cathedral of the Savior in Moscow, the main Russian Orthodox church, people waited in line to then commemorate the 47-year-old inside on the ninth day after Navalny's death. In other churches in the country, people also paid their last respects to Navalny after a public call on social networks.

In downtown Moscow, people in the park on Ukrainski Boulevard remembered the victims of Russia's war of aggression against Ukraine despite the police presence. There they laid flowers at the foot of a monument to the Ukrainian poet Lesya Ukrainka. Uniformed officers watched the event from a police car, as a reporter from the dpa news agency reported.

Public anti-war actions are very rare in Russia, even in the face of massive state repression. There had been repeated arrests. Officials recently took violent action against mourners even after Navalny's death. There were 27 arrests alone when people laid flowers in memory of Navalny, who died in the prison camp on February 16, the OVD said. Hundreds of people were arrested across the country.

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