Californians are mourning the death of Alexei Navalny

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Russian politician Alexei Navalny died of “natural causes” on February 16 in the Arctic penal colony. This is according to the medical report provided to his mother Ludmila Navalnaya by the prison administration.

РУССКИЙ

On February 16, the worldwide media started spreading the news about the death of the famous Russian opposition leader. 

At the Munich Security Conference, Yulia Navalnaya commented on her husband’s death. 

“Everyone has already seen the horrible news today,” she said. “I have been thinking for a long time about whether I should go here or fly directly to my children. But then I thought, ‘What would Alexei do in my place?’ And I’m sure he would be here. He would be on this stage.” She continued: “I do not know how to believe or not believe the news, this terrible news we only receive from government sources in Russia. For many years, as you all know, we have not been able to trust Putin and his government. They always lie.” 

Immediately after the first reports of Navalny’s death, U.S. President Joe Biden held a press conference with journalists.

“But make no mistake — make no mistake, Putin is responsible for Navalny’s death. Putin is responsible,” Biden said. “What has happened to Navalny is yet more proof of Putin’s brutality.  No one should be fooled — not in Russia, not at home, not anywhere in the world. Putin does not only target his [the] citizens of other countries, as we’ve seen what’s going on in Ukraine right now, he also inflicts terrible crimes on his own people.”

Alexei Navalny fought against corruption in Russia, paying his life for it. He ran for mayor of Moscow in the 2013 elections, and he might have become the mayor of Russia’s capital. However, fraud by the authorities didn’t let him win. In 2018, Navalny intended to run for president of Russia but was not permitted, which sparked protests in Russia and worldwide, including the United States. 

As news of Navalny’s death spread, people in Russia, worldwide, and here in the United States began gathering and holding rallies in memory of the murdered politician. Families brought flowers and posters featuring Navalny’s image. 

In California, spontaneous gatherings were held in Sacramento, San Francisco, San Jose, Irvine, Los Angeles, Beverly Hills, and San Diego. 

In Beverly Hills, mourning Russians and their supporters gathered in a city park, a popular place among tourists. 

“My day started at 7 a.m. with this news,” said one of the participants of the event. “What is the most awful thing? I was kind of preparing for two – three years. I understood that it could happen, but yet I was not ready at all.” 

For many people, Alexei Navalny has been a symbol of hope for positive changes in Russia. 

“Alexei’s will in the event of his death was, ‘You simply should not be afraid,” said a speaker at a memorial rally. 

Many Russians who spoke out stated that arrests and even imprisonment were taking place in Russia. 

“I believe that the situation has not yet reached the point of boiling, such as during the famous 37-39 years under Stalin’s repression,” said Peter Prozorov. “Now, I believe there is no other way except for a change of power through force, brutal force, or using troops. Boris Nemtsov was the first politician to be eliminated by murder; he was very uncomfortable with the Putin’s regime at the time. I believe that Alexei Navalny will be the last possible representative of a free Russia who acted peacefully. Today, I have lost all hope that the government can change on its own or through elections.” 

In 2022, the American documentary “Navalny” about the life and fight of Alexei Navalny in Russia, was released. The climax of the Oscar-winning film is documented proof that Navalny was poisoned by the Russian authorities. 

At a mourning rally, a brief excerpt from the film was shown, during which Navalny answered a question about his possible assassination. “Here I had an apparent thought for you: Don’t give up! You can’t. If this happens, it means we are solid at this point because they decided to kill me. We need to use that strength. Don’t lose hope! Remember, we are a massive force that is held down by these bad guys just because we don’t realize how powerful we are. Everything that evil needs for its triumph is the indifference of good people. So there’s no point in doing nothing,” Navalny said in the documentary.

Other people who joined the event to commemorate Navalny also shared their thoughts. 

“Two years ago, a man in the Kremlin and his entourage took my life away from me. Today, he took Alexei’s life and, consequently, took it from the entire world. Remember, Alexey, don’t give up. Who else is there?” said Evgeny. 

As the gathering ended, people left flowers and candles by the central fountain in the park, paying tribute to the loss of the famous Russian opposition leader. 

It is very likely that in the coming years, monuments and streets will be named after the Russian opposition leader. 

In the meantime, as Navalny once said, “You can’t give up!”

Виталий Атаев Трошин, SlavicSac.com
California Local News Fellowship