Removed tributes to Alexei Navalny from Russian cities

Floral tribute to Alexei NavalnyVideos posted on Russian social media showed that groups of unidentified people, the arch enemy of President Vladimir Putin, who died on Friday in a Russian penal colony, were removed overnight as police looked on.

More than 100 people were arrested in eight cities across Russia after they came to lay flowers in memory of Navalny, according to the group OVD-Info, which monitors political repression in Russia. On Saturday, police blocked access to a memorial in the Siberian city of Novosibirsk and arrested several people there as well as in another Siberian city, Surgut, OVD-Info said.

A video posted on social media from Novosibirsk showed people sticking upright red roses in the snow under the watchful eyes of police who blocked access to the memorial with tape.

In Moscow, a video showed flowers being removed overnight from a memorial near the headquarters of the Russian Federal Security Service by a large group while police watched. But by morning more flowers appeared.

News of Navalny's death comes less than a month before the elections It would give Putin six more years in power.

Nigel Gould-Davies, a former British ambassador to Belarus and senior fellow for Russia and Eurasia at the International Institute for Strategic Studies in London, said it showed “that in Russia now the sentence for dissent is not just imprisonment, but death.”

The circumstances of Navalny's death remain largely unclear.

Russia's Federal Penitentiary Service said Navalny felt ill after a walk on Friday and lost consciousness in a punishment colony in the town of Kharp, in the Yamalo-Nenets region about 1,900 kilometers (1,200 miles) northeast of Moscow. An ambulance arrived, but he could not be resuscitated; She added that the cause of death was still “determined.”

A man lays flowers in honor of Alexei Navalny at the Monument, a large rock of the Solovetsky Islands, where the first camp of the Gulag political prison system was established, with the historic Federal Security Service (FSB, successor to the Soviet KGB) building in the background, in Moscow, Russia, Saturday morning , February 17, 2024. (AP Photo/Alexander Zemlianichenko)

It was Navalny Imprisoned since January 2021When he returned to Moscow to face certain arrest after recovering in Germany from a nerve agent poisoning that he blamed on the Kremlin. He was later convicted three times, saying each case was politically motivated, and was sentenced to 19 years in prison on extremism charges.

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After the final ruling, Navalny said that he understood that he was “serving a life sentence, which is measured by the length of my life or the length of the life of this regime.”

Hours after Navalny's death was announced, his wife, Yulia Navalnaya, appeared dramatically on… Security conference in Germany Where many leaders gathered.

She said she thought about canceling, “but then I thought about what Alexei would do in my place. I'm sure he will be here,” she said, adding that she was not sure if she could believe the news coming from official Russian sources.

A photo of Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny, flowers and candles lie on the ground as people gather to pay their last respects to Alexei Navalny at the Monument to Victims of Political Repression in St. Petersburg, Russia on Friday, February 16, 2024. (AP Photo/Dmitry Lovetsky)

A photo of Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny, flowers and candles lie on the ground as people gather to pay their last respects to Alexei Navalny at the Monument to Victims of Political Repression in St. Petersburg, Russia on Friday, February 16, 2024. (AP Photo/Dmitry Lovetsky)

A woman lays flowers in honor of Alexei Navalny at the Monument, a large rock of the Solovetsky Islands, where the first camp of the Gulag political prison system was established, with the historic Federal Security Service (FSB, successor to the Soviet KGB) building in the background, in Moscow, Russia, Saturday morning , February 17, 2024. (AP Photo/Alexander Zemlianichenko)

A woman lays flowers in honor of Alexei Navalny at the Monument, a large rock of the Solovetsky Islands, where the first camp of the Gulag political prison system was established, with the historic Federal Security Service (FSB, successor to the Soviet KGB) building in the background, in Moscow, Russia, Saturday morning , February 17, 2024. (AP Photo/Alexander Zemlianichenko)

She added: “But if this is true, then I want Putin and everyone around Putin, Putin's friends, and his government to know that they will bear responsibility for what they did to our country, to my family, and to my husband.” “This day will come very soon,” Navalnaya said.

US President Joe Biden said that Washington does not know exactly what happened, “but there is no doubt that Navalny's death was the result of something that Putin and his thugs did.”

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Navalny “could have lived safely in exile,” but he returned to his homeland despite knowing he might be imprisoned or killed “because he believed so deeply in his country, in Russia.”

In Germany, Chancellor Olaf Scholz said that Navalny “may have paid with his life for this courage.”

Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said Putin had been informed of Navalny's death. The opposition leader's spokeswoman, Kira Yarmysh, previously said on Twitter that the team did not yet have confirmation.

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