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Navalny’s associates announce protests planned for February 14

Source: Meduza

Alexey Navalny’s chief of staff, Leonid Volkov, has announced that the opposition politician’s supporters are planning to conduct a protest action on Sunday, February 14.

“This will be [in] an entirely different format. We’ll do everything much more cunningly and we won’t try to interact with the police directly, we’ll get away from this,” Volkov told MBX Media on Tuesday, February 9.

On his Telegram channel, Volkov later clarified that Navalny’s team is calling on protesters in “large Russian cities” to stand outside their homes and hold up their cell phone flashlights from 8:00–8:15 p.m. on February 14. He also asked that they take photos of the protest action and upload them to social media.

“No OMON [riot police], no fear. It may seem to you that these 15 minutes won’t change anything, but in fact, they will change everything,” Volkov wrote.

Navalny’s headquarters also announced the protest on social media, using a new slogan: “Love is Stronger than Fear” (#ЛюбовьСильнееСтраха). 

Asked if the planned protest action constitutes an unauthorized rally, Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov told Meduza that it’s “hard to say.” “We will not play cat and mouse with anyone. But, certainly, in the event of a violation of the law, all our law enforcement officers will bring those responsible to justice,” he said during a press briefing on Tuesday.

Protests in support of Alexey Navalny, who was remanded in custody upon returning to Moscow from Berlin in mid-January, took place in hundreds of cities across Russia on January 23 and 31. The authorities arrested a record number of people at the protests and later launched dozens of criminal cases.

Demonstrators also protested in Moscow and St. Petersburg on February 2, after a Moscow court sentenced Navalny to two years and eight months in prison for alleged parole violations. Once again, police officials detained protesters en masse. 

On February 5, Leonid Volkov announced that Navalny’s team was suspending further protests and refocusing on campaign efforts ahead of the State Duma elections this fall. Volkov said the same thing in a video message released on February 8, explaining that Navalny’s associates planned to focus on election initiatives.

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