Navalny’s widow calls for Russia election day protests against Putin

Yulia Navalnaya calls presidential election a ‘sham’, urges Russians to register their protest at polling stations.

Yulia Navalnaya, the widow of Alexei Navalny, the Russian opposition leader who died in a prison camp, looks on during the day she addresses the European Parliament, in Strasbourg, France February 28, 2024
Yulia Navalnaya, the widow of Russian opposition leader Alexey Navalny, addresses the European Parliament, in Strasbourg, France, on February 28, 2024 [Johanna Geron/Reuters]

Yulia Navalnaya, the widow of Russian opposition leader Alexey Navalny, has called for people to join mass election day protests against President Vladimir Putin.

In a video on YouTube, Navalnaya on Wednesday urged Russians to gather at polling stations on March 17 and spoil their ballots or vote against Putin, who is almost certain to win a fifth term as president.

Navalnaya promised to continue the work of her husband, Putin’s toughest opponent, who died last month in an Arctic prison colony. Navalny had backed ideas of simultaneous election protests in one of his final posts on social media, for people to turn out en masse at the same time on election day in cities across the country.

“We need to use election day to show that we exist and there are many of us,” Navalnaya said.

“We are real, living people, and we are against Putin. You need to come to the voting station on the same day and at the same time – March 17 at noon,” she continued.

“What to do next? The choice is yours. You can vote for any candidate except Putin. You can ruin the ballot, you can write ‘Navalny’ in big letters on it. And even if you don’t see the point in voting at all, you can just come and stand at the polling station, and then turn around and go home.”

The elections will be held from March 15 to 17. Despite Navalnaya’s moves to unite those who supported her husband against Putin, the Russian opposition remains largely fractured.

In the video, she said she had drawn hope from the large crowds of supporters that turned out for Navalny’s funeral last week. Hundreds were detained after laying flowers at makeshift memorials for him as many chanted anti-Putin slogans.

She called the upcoming vote a “sham” and alleged that Putin would “draw up any result he wants”.

Navalnaya has made high-profile political appearances since Navalny’s death, including meeting United States President Joe Biden, addressing the Munich Security Conference and speaking at the European Parliament.

The Kremlin has strongly denied accusations that Putin was behind Navalny’s death, which drew condemnation from world leaders as the opposition figure was mourned across the world. His death certificate said he died of natural causes at the age of 47.

Source: News Agencies