Hundreds of Russians are all set to hold candlelight gatherings in their residential courtyards, on February 14, in a symbol of their solidarity with detained opposition leader Alexei Navalny. Despite being warned of arrests and hefty fines by law enforcers, his supporters have chosen the day of love to support the man who has fearlessly stood against Putin’s “corrupt” administration. As per official’s records, Russian authorities have detained over 7,000 people since the protests emerged late in January.
Earlier this month, close allies of the Kremlin critic declared a moratorium on street rallies till spring. However, they urged his supporters to show support to the 44-year old by gathering outside their homes for 15 minutes on the occasion of Valentine’s day, flashing their cellphone torches and arranging lit candles in the shape of a heart.
“(President Vladimir) Putin is fear. Navalny is love. That’s why we will win,” Lithuania based Leonid Volkov, one of Navalny’s close allies, wrote on Twitter calling on people to gather.
This comes as Kremlin critic Alexei Navalny, who reappeared in a court on Friday, February 12 for a trial on defamation charges, mocked Russian President Vladimir Putin and criticised the judge. Navalny backed his lawyer's request to replace the judge, saying she needs to enrol herself in a school to improve her knowledge of the law. Navalny is accused of defaming the World War II veteran, who appeared in a video last year promoting a constitutional reform that extended Putin's term limit as President by two years.
Navalny was arrested by the Russian authorities soon after returning from Germany last month, where he had been since August 2020 for treatment. Navalny was flown to Berlin from Russia last year after he fell ill during a flight from Tomsk to Moscow. Upon landing in Germany, doctors concluded Navalny had been poisoned using Soviet-era nerve agent Novichok. Navalny was in a medically-induced coma for almost a month following which he was kept in the hospital for recovery treatment.