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Surveillance cameras, police patrols, and scaring students Russian authorities leaving nothing to chance as Navalny’s funeral approaches

Source: Meduza

After a week-long fight to secure his body from the authorities, followed by days of struggling to make funeral arrangements while the government worked to stop them, Alexey Navalny’s family and associates plan to bury him in Moscow on March 1. According to Navalny’s press secretary, a memorial service will be held at a church in the city’s Maryino District at 2:00 p.m. After that, they plan to bury him at the Borisovskoye Cemetery. As the funeral approaches, the authorities are doing everything they can to ensure it doesn’t bring mass protests from Navalny’s supporters. Meduza lays out some of the measures they’re taking.

Patrolling the cemetery

On February 29, a full day before Alexey Navalny’s burial, police officers began guarding the Borisovskoye Cemetery, where the politician is set to be laid to rest.

According to the Telegram channel RusNews, the authorities have already brought numerous pieces of metal fencing to the cemetery, and police are patrolling the area in groups of two to three. “Surveillance cameras have been installed on every lamppost,” the channel wrote.

A correspondent from the channel Mozhem Obyasnit reported that police squads with reinforcements are also on duty at the nearest metro station. At the cemetery’s entrance, two officers have reportedly been making visitors show their passports and explain the goal of their visit. The correspondent also said police are inspecting people’s personal items to “prevent terrorist operations.”

As of Thursday, preparations at the cemetery for Navalny’s funeral and burial were not yet underway, according to Mozhem Obyasnit. “We have no information about Navalny’s funeral or changes in the cemetery’s operating hours,” a cemetery employee told the channel.

A stark warning

On February 27, a social media page run by the Russian Education Ministry published a video from the Interior Ministry on the “prevention of children’s participation in unsanctioned rallies.” According to the news outlet Agentstvo, the video first appeared on the Interior Ministry’s page 1.5 years ago.

With dramatic music playing in the background, the three-minute video warns viewers that while the Russian Constitution gives citizens the right to freedom of assembly, all protests have to be approved by the authorities, and that failing to secure permission can cause public disorder and is punishable by law. The clip shows footage of past protests in Russia, including ones organized by Alexey Navalny’s team. It notes that “analogous laws” exist in the U.S. and in “most European countries.”

“This material is intended for both teachers and students, with the aim of shedding light on various aspects of this issue. The video examines the reason that unauthorized rallies arise, the impact they have on public life, and the legal consequences that participating in them can bring,” reads the post on the Education Ministry’s channel.

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The threat of expulsion

A reader of the independent outlet 7x7 reported that the students at the Russian Presidential Academy of National Economy and Public Administration [RANKhiGS] were told to stay away from any rallies or gatherings in Moscow on February 29 or March 1.

“If you see a rally, don’t stop, don’t look, just keep your distance. You study at the Russian Presidential Academy — any participation in a rally, and it’s immediate expulsion!” reads a message from the school’s leadership that the reader shared with journalists.

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