More than 350 arrested in Russia while paying tribute to Navalny, rights group says

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Hundreds of people have been arrested across Russia for paying tribute to the late Alexei Navalny, with more than 150 receiving jail sentences of up to two weeks, a human rights group says. 

The death of the prominent Vladimir Putin critic and opposition leader Friday prompted people in dozens of Russian cities to visit makeshift memorials and monuments to victims of political repression, laying down candles and flowers. 

In 39 cities, police detained 366 people by Sunday evening, the rights group OVD-Info told The Associated Press. 

More than 200 arrests were made in St. Petersburg, Russia’s second-largest city, the group said. By Sunday evening, court officials in St. Petersburg reported rulings ordering 154 of those detained to serve from one to 14 days in jail. The courts say the individuals violated anti-protest laws, according to the AFP.

ALEXEI NAVALNY’S WIFE SAYS ‘PUTIN KILLED THE FATHER OF MY CHILDREN’ 

Navalny memorial in Russia

People gather at a makeshift memorial for late Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny organized at the monument to the victims of political repression in St. Petersburg on Friday, Feb. 16. (Olga Maltseva/AFP via Getty Images)

Among those detained there was Grigory Mikhnov-Voitenko, a priest of the Apostolic Orthodox Church – a religious group independent of the Russian Orthodox Church – who announced plans on social media to hold a memorial service for Navalny. He was arrested Saturday morning outside his home.  

He was charged with organizing a rally and placed in a holding cell in a police precinct, but was later hospitalized with a stroke, OVD-Info reported. 

Navalny previously organized anti-government demonstrations and ran for office to advocate for reforms against what he claimed was corruption in Russia. He was the victim of an alleged assassination attempt in 2020, when he suffered poisoning from a suspected Novichok nerve agent.  

NAVALNY’S BODY REPORTEDLY FOUND WITH ‘SIGNS OF BRUISING’ AS RUSSIA CLAIMS HE DIED OF ‘SUDDEN DEATH SYNDROME’ 

Alexei Navalny in Moscow, Russia

Russian opposition activist Alexei Navalny takes part in a march in memory of opposition leader Boris Nemtsov in Moscow on Feb. 29, 2020. (AP/Pavel Golovkin)

He remained in a coma for several weeks while doctors in Germany fought to keep him alive. He accused Putin of being responsible for his poisoning. 

Navalny returned to Russia in 2021. Authorities immediately arrested him and later sentenced him to prison on extremism charges. His team repeatedly raised concerns about his treatment following his return and Navalny had said the charges were politically motivated. 

Navalny was reported dead Friday at a penal colony in northern Russia by prison officials who claimed he went on a walk, felt unwell and then lost consciousness. 

Navalny memorial in London

Protesters stage a demonstration opposite the Russian Embassy in London, on Friday, Feb. 16, in reaction to Navalny’s death. (AP/Kin Cheung)

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Yulia Navalnaya, Navalny’s wife, said Monday that he was poisoned again by Novichok – blaming Putin – and that officials are holding onto his remains until traces of the nerve agent disappear. 

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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