Russian law enforcement threatens more felony prosecutions ahead of pro-Navalny flashmobs planned for Sunday
Russian federal prosecutors warned on Thursday that it is illegal to incite or participate in mass demonstrations organized in violation of public-assembly statutes. In similar statements released by the Federal Investigative Committee and Interior Ministry, Russian officials threatened felony charges against Internet users who advocate “riots.”
The announcements from Russia’s top law-enforcement agencies don’t mention a specific upcoming event, but they clearly refer to protests against the imprisonment of opposition politician Alexey Navalny, citing “unpermitted rallies that occurred earlier this year” and “90 felony cases opened thereafter.”
Navalny’s national campaign is asking supporters to walk out into their apartment courtyards on Sunday evening, February 14, and stand together, holding aloft their cell-phone flashlights. Activists are also invited to photograph themselves at these brief rallies and share the images on social media.
On February 2, Alexey Navalny was sentenced to prison for the next two years and eight months. His arrest and incarceration provoked large protests in dozens of cities across Russia, leading to thousands of arrests. On February 5, Navalny’s campaign leaders suspended further protests until the spring and summer, saying the movement would refocus on trying to deny Russia’s ruling political party another sweep in this fall’s parliamentary elections.