Navalny’s supporters move forward with next round of protests, without waiting to reach half-million threshold in signature drive
Alexey Navalny’s supporters have begun mobilizing for another round of protests to demand his release from prison. The activists are moving forward without waiting to reach 500,000 signatures on a petition launched last month. On April 17, Navalny’s spokeswoman announced on social media that Navalny could die “in a matter of days” due to his declining health in prison. In a speech shared on Navalny’s YouTube channel, senior Anti-Corruption Foundation members Ivan Zhdanov and Leonid Volkov argued that any further delay could cost Navalny his life:
There are circumstances where you need to act fast or something irreversible could happen. We’ve decided not to wait to collect 500,000 signatures on our website. Events are moving too quickly and getting worse. We can’t put this off any longer. Extreme situations call for extreme solutions.
Have you ever watched someone being killed? Yes, you have. You’re seeing it right now. No matter how badly you’d like to push it from your mind and not think about it, to change the subject, it doesn’t change the fact that they’re killing Alexey Navalny — in a truly terrible way, before our very eyes.
In March, members of the Anti-Corruption Foundation launched a signatures drive in Navalny’s support, seeking half a million RSVPs from Russians willing to join demonstrations demanding Navalny’s release from prison. At the time of this writing, the petition has roughly 458,450 signatures.
On March 31, Navalny announced a hunger strike. In prison, he has complained of pain in his back and legs, demanding “adequate medical attention.” On April 15, a team of doctors who have treated Navalny privately for years declared in a public statement that his vital signs are rapidly declining. Deputies in regional parliaments across Russia, as well as dozens of Western cultural luminaries, have signed open letters, requesting that Navalny’s doctors get direct access to their patient.
On April 15, hackers released the email addresses of almost 400,000 people who signed the “Free Navalny!” protest petition. Navalny’s team apologized for the incident but clarified immediately that the leak would not derail the organization’s demonstration plans. The next day, state prosecutors in Moscow filed a lawsuit to outlaw Navalny’s entire political and anti-corruption infrastructure as “extremist” organizations.