Navalny’s widow calls for Russia election day gatherings on March 17 to show dismay with Putin

The widow of Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny has called on his supporters to join a protest against this month’s presidential elections, which Navalny conceived shortly before his still inexplicable death.

Yulia Navalnaya asked Russians opposed to President Vladimir Putin to line up at polling stations on March 17, the last and most important day of voting.

Putin is certain to win a fifth term, potentially extending his rule until 2030, in elections that include only symbolic opponents.

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

“We must use Election Day to show that we exist and that there are many of us, that we are real, living, real people and that 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,” Navalnaya said.

Navalny had put forward the afternoon concept on February 1, saying it was a “completely legal and safe” way to protest and that authorities would have no way to counter it. Mass protests in Russia have become effectively impossible under Putin’s increasing crackdown on dissent and criticism in recent years.

Navalny was reported dead on February 16. Authorities said he fell ill after walking through his prison colony, but provided no further details. Navalny had been jailed since returning to Moscow from Germany in early 2021, where he was recovering from a nerve agent poisoning that he blamed on the Kremlin.

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