Death of Alexeï Navalny: around fifteen arrests in Moscow during a rally in his memory

The day after the death of Russian opponent Alexeï Navalny, rallies were organized in his memory on Saturday February 17 in Moscow, while the Russian authorities warned against any demonstration

Death of Alexeï Navalny: around fifteen arrests in Moscow during a rally in his memory

The day after the death of Russian opponent Alexeï Navalny, rallies were organized in his memory on Saturday February 17 in Moscow, while the Russian authorities warned against any demonstration. During the mobilization, around fifteen people were arrested at midday by the Russian police, reported the independent Russian media Sota.

According to videos broadcast on the Telegram account of this media, the masked police officers bluntly arrested “more than fifteen people” who had come to lay flowers on a monument in memory of victims of Soviet political repression in the center of the Russian capital . Shortly after, journalists from Agence France-Presse (AFP) witnessed a new arrest.

The square where the monument is located was surrounded by the police in order not to let onlookers approach. However, flowers were placed in the snow on a nearby sidewalk.

Earlier, an AFP journalist had seen dozens of Muscovites lay flowers, in calm and silence, at the foot of the structure, called "the wall of mourning" near Sakharov Avenue, a traditional place of opposition rallies and a thoroughfare named after a famous Soviet dissident. Dozens of police officers had been deployed, as well as cell vans.

More than 150 arrests between Friday and Saturday

On Friday evening, hundreds of Russians had already come to lay flowers in front of another monument dedicated to the victims of the Gulag, the Solovki Stone, on Lubyanka Square, near the headquarters of the Russian Federal Security Service (FSB).

People flocked there even at night, while at least two police minibuses were deployed on site. At least 177 people were arrested between Friday and Saturday during several similar gatherings in cities across Russia, according to a count by the specialist NGO OVD-Info.

Also in tribute to Alexeï Navalny, the G7 foreign ministers meeting in Munich observed a minute of silence. Italian Minister Antonio Tajani “opened the meeting of G7 ministers in Munich by asking his colleagues to observe a minute of silence to pay tribute to Alexei Navalny,” the ministry said in a statement.

Relatives claim his remains

The team of Russian opponent Alexeï Navalny demanded on Saturday that his remains be handed over to them "immediately", after the activist's mother was formally informed of his death in prison.

“A [penitentiary] colony employee said that Alexei Navalny's body was in Salekhard,” a town in Russia's Arctic region where his prison was located, and had been taken away by “investigators” to "carry out 'research'", said the opponent's spokesperson, Kira Iarmych. “We demand that Alexei Navalny’s body be immediately handed over to his family,” she added.

Shortly after, in a video, the spokesperson announced that the opponent's mother, Lyudmila Navalnaïa, had visited the IK-3 penal colony in the Arctic region of Yamal on Saturday and that an “official document” had been given to him confirming the death. The latter specifies that “death occurred on February 16 at 2:17 p.m. local [12:17 p.m. in Paris]”.