The Russia that isn’t afraid marches for Navalny | EUROtoday

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They haven’t forgotten the phrases that Alexei Navalny spoke on January 17, 2021, upon his return to Moscow, a couple of minutes earlier than being arrested: «I’m not afraid. Don't be afraid both.” They listened to him: it was with those same words that they welcomed the arrival of the funeral procession in the cathedral dedicated to the icon of the Consoling Mother of God. Chanting among the applause the name that Vladimir Putin has never uttered in public and that the regime would have liked to erase, together with his life, and now with his memory.

But when, since the early hours of Friday morning, an increasingly long line of people lined up along the barriers placed around the church in the Maryno neighborhood, where the Navalny family lived, and then along the route followed up to the Borisovsky cemetery, it became clear that the attempt to stifle Navalny's funeral had failed. It wasn't them who were afraid, but the regime.

Longer and longer queue

The queue on the pavement got longer and longer, despite the warnings, the intimidation, the total absence of information on the state media, the working day; despite the barriers, the surveillance cameras hastily installed the day before, the columns of buses and vans of the police, and despite the awareness of being stopped at any moment for taking part in an unauthorized demonstration, or of having expressed solidarity with an extremist. In the previous days, Yulia Navalnaya herself had warned them: there was a risk of provocations and a new wave of arrests. The line that separates a funeral ceremony from a protest rally is very thin.

Slogans against Putin

But one wonders: how many would there have been, in a free regime, without all those restrictions? In recent days it was enough to place a flower in front of a memorial to risk arrest. After the arrival of the coffin, in front of the gates of the cathedral the applause was combined with increasingly courageous slogans: “We won’t forgive, we won’t overlook.” And then: Russia will be free», «No to war!», «Love without terror!». To get to where it has not been possible to get to for some time now – since the beginning of the invasion of Ukraine in 2022: “Russia with out Putin!”, “Putin a assassin!”, “Freedom for political prisoners!”, we people chanted as the funeral procession headed towards the cemetery.

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The crowd at Navalny's funeral (Photo by STRINGER / AFP)

In the cathedral, where not even diplomats were allowed to enter – for Italy the chargé d'affaires Pietro Sferra Carini, together with the American ambassador Lynne Tracy, the ambassadors of France and Germany, a delegation from the European Union – the ceremony had to be “as fast as attainable”. But outdoors the folks have been more and more quite a few. They set off to accompany him, crossing the bridge over the Moscow River, parading with carnations in hand in entrance of the Omon of the particular forces.