News of the Day: 14 February 2021

The Guardian: Supporters of the Kremlin critic Alexei Navalny plan to hold candlelit gatherings in residential courtyards across Russia on Sunday despite warnings that they could be arrested. Navalny’s allies have declared a moratorium on street rallies until the spring after police detained thousands of people at protests in the past few weeks against the opposition politician’s arrest and imprisonment. But they want Russians to show solidarity with Navalny by gathering outside their homes for 15 minutes on Valentine’s Day evening, shining their mobile phone torches and arranging candles in the shape of a heart. “(President Vladimir) Putin is fear. Navalny is love. That’s why we will win,” Leonid Volkov, one of Navalny’s close allies, wrote on Twitter when calling on people to gather.

The Guardian: Several hundred women formed human chains in Moscow and St Petersburg on Sunday, using Valentine’s Day to express support for the wife of the jailed opposition leader, Alexei Navalny, and other political prisoners. About 300 women gathered on Arbat Street in Moscow’s city centre holding a long white ribbon in temperatures of -13C (8F). The gathering came after authorities last week sentenced Navalny, President Vladimir Putin’s most prominent critic, to nearly three years in prison and unleashed a crackdown on his supporters.

RFE/RL: Following mass rallies that saw thousands of detentions, supporters of jailed Russian opposition politician Aleksei Navalny have been using light from cell phones, flashlights, and candles as a new form of protest. The February 14 protest action, called by Navalny’s team under the motto “Love is stronger than fear,” began in Russia’s Far East, including in the cities of Petropavlovsk-Kamchatsky, Vladivostok, and Khabarovsk. Photos shared on social media showed small groups of people standing outdoors and holding flashlights or standing by candles arranged in the shape of a heart to mark the Valentine’s Day protest. In the Russian capital, more than 20 people could be seen at Moscow State University forming a heart while holding flashlights.

RFE/RL: Hundreds of women have attended protests in Moscow and St. Petersburg on St. Valentine’s Day in support of Russian women prosecuted for political reasons. The Chain Of Solidary And Love protest is also dedicated to imprisoned opposition leader Aleksei Navalny’s wife, Yulia Navalnaya, who flew to Germany on February 10. Although no explanation was given for her departure, Navalnaya had recently been detained for taking part in unsanctioned rallies in support of her husband. Images shared on social media on February 14 show women holding red roses, balloons, and heart signs with the names of female political prisoners written on them. Demonstrators also sang “Love is stronger than fear,” the motto of the protests. The organizers said on their Facebook page that the rallies were dedicated to the women who were “beaten and tortured by police during peaceful protests,” as well as “to everyone who spends their days in courts, police buses, and special detention centers.”

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