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Hundreds of people detained at Navalny memorial events in Russia

Hundreds of people detained at Navalny memorial events in Russia Photo: Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny (Getty Images)

During the laying of flowers at the memorial site for the deceased opposition figure Alexei Navalny, over 400 people were detained in 32 Russian cities. The highest number of arrests took place in St. Petersburg and Moscow, according to the Russian human rights group OVD-Info.

As of 10:00 p.m. Kyiv time on Saturday, February 17, over 200 people were detained in St. Petersburg. Dozens of people gathered near the monument to the victims of repression in the city. Protesters laid flowers and candles; some sang anthems, while others, with tears in their eyes, embraced each other.

"I am very sorry for him and our country. I am scared," said an 83-year-old woman who attended the gathering and refused to give her name.

OVD-Info also reported separate arrests in smaller cities across Russia, from the border city of Belgorod to Vorkuta.

The online news outlet SOTA reported that in the temporarily occupied Luhansk, residents laid flowers in honor of Navalny at a monument dedicated to the victims of Soviet leader Joseph Stalin.

In another city, flowers were laid at the monument to the heroes of the Russian Revolution at the beginning of the 20th century.

"Despite the authorities' attempts to remove the flowers, they continue to appear," the source reports.

In Moscow, law enforcement officers pushed people into the snow near the place where individuals left flowers and messages in support of the deceased opposition leader.

In St. Petersburg on Sunday, February 18, at the rallies in memory of Navalny, at least 88 people were arrested.

Kremlin-controlled Russian state news agencies did not mention these events.

This is the most extensive wave of arrests at political events in Russia since September 2022. At that time, over 1300 people were arrested during demonstrations against the "partial mobilization" of reservists for participation in dictator Vladimir Putin's war against Ukraine.

Death of Alexei Navalny

On February 16, 47-year-old Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny lost consciousness while taking a walk in the Arctic penal colony Polar Wolf, where he was serving a three-year sentence.

Later, the Federal Penitentiary Service of Russia in the Yamalo-Nenets Autonomous district reported the politician's death.

Official information about the cause of Navalny's death has not been disclosed. Two possibilities are being considered. Russian media have suggested a thrombus detachment as a probable cause of death.

Meanwhile, the opposition leader's team has not seen his body. They claim that he is not in the morgue, despite assurances to the contrary from the colony.

For more details on the politician's death, refer to the exclusive material by RBC-Ukraine titled Murder Putin allowed himself to perpetrate: How Navalny's death will impact Russia.