Team Navalny to refrain from announcing new protests in advance
Alexey Navalny’s chief of staff, Leonid Volkov, has announced that his team plans to abandon its tactic of organizing street protests and notifying their supporters about new rallies in advance, reports Voice of America.
During a webinar organized by the University of Chicago on May 12, Volkov said that future opposition protests will be spontaneous:
“There will be no more street protests in the form that we saw in January of this year. But this isn’t a big problem. [...] This doesn’t mean that there won’t be anymore protests at all. But the next protest will not be prepared or planned, we will not announce that we’re scheduling a protest action on a specific day [or] that we’re preparing it. We will not disseminate materials about it. Putin’s recent actions have made this impossible. But this only means that protests will erupt spontaneously, as happened in Tunisia in 2011 [the beginning of the Arab Spring]. Is this good? No. Is it inevitable? Yes.”
Volkov added that after the protests in 2021, the Russian authorities “showed that they are ready to increase the level of repressions and are clearly ready to go to the point of using even more violence against protesters.” He also noted that protesters are being threatened with jail time and significant fines, as well as the prospect of losing their jobs or being expelled from university.
Russia has seen several major protests in support of jailed opposition politician Alexey Navalny since the beginning of the year. The most recent rallies took place on April 21, drawing more than 100,000 participants countrywide. According to the independent monitor OVD-Info, around 2,000 people were detained in connection with the protests — many were arrested the day after the rallies.
In April, Moscow prosecutors filed a lawsuit seeking to designate Navalny’s Anti-Corruption Foundation (the FBK), Citizens’ Rights Protection Foundation, and political movement as “extremist organizations.” The Russian authorities curtailed the work of these organizations pending trial, after which Team Navalny disbanded its countrywide network of campaign offices. Russia’s federal financial watchdog then proceeded to add Navalny’s political movement to its list of extremist groups.