Russian tribute to Alexeï Navalny | EUROtoday

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DYoung folks, outdated folks, some with strollers, utilizing a cane or in wheelchairs, a number of thousand got here on Friday March 1 to the Marino district, within the south-east of the Russian capital, to bid farewell to opponent Alexeï Navalny. Some arrived a number of hours early to gentle a candle within the church of the Icon of the Mother of God, the place the funeral ceremony occurred in line with the Orthodox ceremony.

Only a number of hundred have been capable of enter the church and attend the quick ceremony. After a minute of silence, to the sound of bells, throwing flowers within the air, the group gathered on the sq. chanted: “Heroes don't die! », “Navalny! », “We will not forgive!” “. The Russian opponent died in obscure circumstances on February 16 in the penitentiary nicknamed “Polar Wolf” in Siberia, beyond the Arctic Circle.

“His death is a tragedy for me and many people. And paying our last respects remains a right that we have not yet been deprived of,” says Anna, forty years old, who voted for him in the election for mayor of Moscow ten years ago. As if in a burst of nostalgia, Muscovites flocked by the thousands to say a final farewell to Navalny.

” I don’t dream ? Did all these folks actually come? » exclaims Katia, twenty-one years outdated, including herself to the winding queue, which stretched over two kilometers. “It looks like half of Moscow has gathered here!” “, some in the crowd are surprised.

Important police force

“And these are only those who were able to quit their jobs,” emphasizes Ludmila, eighty years outdated, leaning on her cane. “They say that the opposition no longer exists in Russia, yet look at all these people, it only took one spark for them to come out into the streets. If you scan the crowd, you will see that even blind people came. But who is really blind, one might ask? »

Most state media won't say a word about the crowds at the funeral of the man who was known as Vladimir Putin's number one opponent. Kremlin spokesperson Dmitri Peskov warned just before the ceremony that “any unauthorized demonstration will constitute[it] a violation of the law. Therefore, those who participate will be held responsible, in accordance with current law.”

An imposing police pressure was put in place: roadblocks and tons of of cops have been deployed within the neighborhood. However, impressed by collective braveness, at first timidly, then louder and louder, the group shouted slogans punishable by a number of years in jail in Russia: “Putin, murderer! », “No to war!” “.

The hope of the demonstrators

“Of course, it’s a very big loss. On the other hand, there is the hope that Russia will become peaceful and free, as Alexei dreamed of,” says opponent Boris Nadezhdine, taking his place in the queue, to the applause of the crowd . “I will do everything in this direction,” adds the man who was not authorized to run in the presidential election which takes place in mid-March, where he intended to run opposing the war in Ukraine.

He's not the only Russian politician to be noticed in the crowd. Ekaterina Dountsova, another peace activist excluded from the vote, was also there. Diplomats from major European and American countries were seen among those gathered.

“What happened today is a very significant unifying moment. Those present were able to cry, demonstrate, protest, and put their pain into words. It’s wonderful,” we exclaim in a group of young people heading towards the metro, facing the influx of police around the Borissovo cemetery. “In Russia, it is very rare, because of propaganda and repression, to feel surrounded by sensible people. »

Only a number of hundred folks have been capable of entry the grave and, every in flip, place earth on the coffin, earlier than the cemetery doorways closed. Spontaneous commemorations flourished within the surrounding space: bouquets have been positioned underneath posters bearing the picture of Alexeï Navalny.

At the time, arrests have been uncommon. Andrei Morev, vice-chairman of Moscow's Yabloko get together, was arrested within the metro after the funeral. Some human rights activists warn that this may increasingly solely be the start. “In Moscow, the facial recognition digital camera system works very successfully. This might be why they put in new cameras in massive numbers close to the church and on the cemetery,” warns Dmitry Anisimov, spokesperson for OVD-Info, the human rights group. Man in Russia.