Alexei Navalny’s widow urges Russians to stage election day protest

6 March 2024, 15:24

France Russia Navalny
France Russia Navalny. Picture: PA

Yulia Navalnaya asked people opposed to Vladimir Putin to form long queues at polling stations at midday on March 17.

The widow of Alexei Navalny, who died in an Arctic prison three weeks ago, has called on his supporters to join a protest at the presidential election that the Russian opposition leader devised shortly before his death.

Yulia Navalnaya asked Russians opposed to President Vladimir Putin to form long queues at polling stations at midday on March 17, the last and main day of voting.

Mr Putin is certain to win a fifth term in office, potentially extending his rule to 2030, in the election that includes only token opponents.

Europe and Africa Pictures of the Week Photo Gallery
Yulia Navalnaya said Vladimir Putin is certain to win the rigged election (Jean-Francois Badias/AP)

Ms Navalnaya acknowledged that in a video message on X, formerly Twitter, saying: “Putin will imagine any result that he likes, even 80, even 180%.”

But the gathering “will help millions of people see like-minded people and realise that we are not alone, we are surrounded by people who are also against war, against corruption and against lawlessness,” she said.

“We need to use election day to show that we exist and there are many of us, we are actual, living, real people and we are against Putin. What to do next is up to you. You can vote for any candidate except Putin. You could ruin your ballot,” Ms Navalnaya said.

Mr Navalny had floated the idea of forming big queues on election day on February 1, saying it was a “completely legal and safe” way to protest and that authorities would have no way of countering it.

Russia Navalny Funeral Photo Gallery
Police watch as people walk towards the Borisovskoye Cemetery for the funeral ceremony of Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny, in Moscow (AP)

Mass protest actions in Russia have become effectively impossible under Mr Putin’s intensifying crackdown on dissent and criticism in recent years.

Mr Navalny was reported dead on February 16.

Authorities said that he became ill after a walk at his prison colony but have otherwise given no details.

Mr Navalny had been imprisoned since returning to Moscow in early 2021 from Germany, where he had been recuperating from nerve-agent poisoning that he blamed on the Kremlin.

By Press Association

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