Russia-Ukraine War: Leader of Armed Rebellion Against Putin Appears to Re-emerge in Video

Credit…Matteo Corner/EPA, via Shutterstock

Aleksei A. Navalny, the jailed Russian opposition leader, has urged his supporters to go to the polls in regional elections next month, even though landslide victories for the Kremlin are a near certainty across the country.

In a blog post, Mr. Navalny on Monday called on Russians to vote for anyone on the ballot who is not a member of President Vladimir V. Putin’s United Russia party. It was important, he said, for Russians to continue participating in elections, because “sooner or later, they will be held relatively freely in Russia.”

“We must win them,” Mr. Navalny went on. “This will not happen if we persuade ourselves that elections have no meaning and significance and get used to not participating in them.”

Though the Kremlin has for years prevented almost all well-known opposition figures from getting on the ballot, Mr. Navalny’s coordinated protest-voting strategy of coalescing around one particular candidate showed in previous elections that an opposition movement could still influence political events. This time around, he said, repression has reached such intensity that the strategy no longer made sense — but there were still some opposition candidates on regional ballots who were worthy of support.

Mr. Navalny’s appeal came a day after protesters around the world, many of them Russian nationals, gathered to rally against Mr. Putin’s grasp on power, Moscow’s full-scale invasion of Ukraine and the ongoing detention of dissidents of the Russian state, including Mr. Navalny.

The protests, which drew crowds in cities across Europe and in Australia, were organized by Mr. Navalny’s Anti-Corruption Foundation in coordination with local groups and timed to commemorate the third anniversary of his poisoning.

In Berlin, a small crowd of people marched from the hospital where Mr. Navalny was treated for his nearly fatal exposure to a military-grade nerve agent to the Brandenburg Gate in the center of the city. They carried signs and posters denouncing Mr. Putin and expressing support for Ukraine.

“I feel it’s an important part of our work here to talk to people in Europe and the West,” Leonid Volkov, Mr. Navalny’s longtime chief of staff, said.

Still, the turnout in Berlin, which is home to a large population of Russian immigrants and has become a hub for Russian exiles, was smaller than others had hoped.

“I feel like we still have quite a lot of supporters, but many are too exhausted,” said Daria Dudley, a Russian national who lives in Berlin and has organized protests, including Sunday’s rally, with Demokrati-JA, a Russian-language antiwar group based in Germany.

Russians who attended Sunday’s rally said they felt some responsibility to speak out from the relative safety they felt in Germany, especially in support of opposition figures who are imprisoned. .

“We — all people of Russian origin — are responsible at least for what is going on,” said Natasha Ivanova, 49, who is Russian but has lived in Germany for decades. After Russia annexed Crimea in 2014, she said she could not continue to “watch quietly,” adding, “I won’t stop speaking because of fear.”

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