More than 400 Individuals Detained in Russia as Nation Grieves Alexei Navalny’s Death, Putin’s Foremost Adversary

Over 400 Detained In Russia As Country Mourns Death Of Alexei Navalny, Putin’s Fiercest Foe

More than 400 individuals were reportedly detained in Russia while paying respects to opposition leader Alexei Navalny, whose demise at a remote Arctic penal colony was announced by a prominent rights group on Sunday.

Navalny’s unexpected passing at the age of 47 deeply impacted many Russians, who had looked to him as a key figure challenging President Vladimir Putin’s leadership. Despite surviving a nerve agent poisoning and enduring multiple imprisonments, Navalny continued his outspoken criticism of the Kremlin.

The news of Navalny’s death reverberated globally, prompting numerous world leaders to hold Putin and his government accountable.

President Joe Biden, speaking to reporters after attending a church service on Saturday, reiterated his belief that Putin bore responsibility for Navalny’s demise. “The fact remains, Putin is responsible. Whether he directly ordered it or not, he bears responsibility for the outcome,” Biden stated. “It’s indicative of his character. It cannot go unaddressed.”

More than 400 Individuals Detained in Russia as Nation Grieves Alexei Navalny's Death, Putin's Foremost Adversary
More than 400 Individuals Detained in Russia as Nation Grieves Alexei Navalny’s Death, Putin’s Foremost Adversary (Credits: France 24)

In the wake of her husband’s passing, Yulia Navalnaya, Navalny’s wife, broke her social media silence with a poignant Instagram post featuring a photo of the couple captioned simply, “I love you.” Across dozens of Russian cities, hundreds of people gathered at impromptu memorials and monuments to honor victims of political repression, offering flowers and lighting candles in tribute to the late politician.

However, by Saturday night, authorities had detained 401 individuals across over a dozen cities, according to OVD-Info, a rights group monitoring political arrests and providing legal assistance.

St. Petersburg saw more than 200 arrests, including that of Grigory Mikhnov-Voitenko, a priest of the Apostolic Orthodox Church, who had announced plans for a memorial service for Navalny on social media. Mikhnov-Voitenko was apprehended outside his residence on Saturday morning on charges of organizing a rally and was later hospitalized due to a stroke, as reported by OVD-Info.

In response to the protests, St. Petersburg courts sentenced 42 detainees to jail terms ranging from one to six days, while nine others received fines, court officials disclosed on Saturday. Additionally, at least six individuals in Moscow were sentenced to 15 days in jail, according to OVD-Info. Further arrests were reported in Krasnodar and Bryansk.

Navalny’s demise came just a month before Russia’s presidential election, widely anticipated to extend Putin’s tenure for another six years.

Questions surrounding the circumstances of Navalny’s death persisted, with uncertainty lingering over when authorities would release his body. OVD-Info revealed that over 12,000 requests had been submitted to the Russian government for the release of Navalny’s remains to his relatives.

Navalny’s team asserted that he was “murdered” and accused authorities of deliberately delaying the release of his body, citing conflicting information provided to Navalny’s mother and legal representatives during their efforts to retrieve the remains. “They’re leading us in circles and covering their tracks,” remarked Navalny’s spokeswoman, Kira Yarmysh.

Navalny’s closest ally, Leonid Volkov, expressed skepticism over the lack of leaked or published surveillance footage from the penal colony where Navalny was held. According to a note handed to Navalny’s mother, he passed away at 2:17 p.m. on Friday. Prison officials attributed his death to “sudden death syndrome,” although the exact cause remains under investigation.

Navalny had been incarcerated since January 2021, following his return to Moscow from Germany, where he had been receiving treatment for the nerve agent poisoning he blamed on the Kremlin. Despite facing multiple charges he denounced as politically motivated, Navalny remained resolute in his opposition to the regime.

Shortly after news of Navalny’s death broke, his widow made a poignant appearance at the Munich Security Conference, expressing uncertainty about the official Russian reports but vowing that those responsible would be held accountable for their actions.

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