“There is no time to waste. The situation in Navalny is critical,” said Russian Dmitri Belousov. He worked for a long time as a journalist and editor on Russian state television, but fled to the Netherlands two years ago and has proven to be a fierce critic of President Putin.
Belousov himself will take to the streets of Amsterdam, where a protest is also planned. “I don’t want to send a message to the Russian government,” he stresses, “because for me that would be negotiating with terrorists. But from here I would like to express my support for all the Russians who defend freedom. expression. “
Originally, the Navalny team intended not to protest until half a million people indicate their participation via social media. Although this number has not yet been reached, the action continues now. “Only massive public display can save Navalny,” political supporters said in a video posted to YouTube.
Their leader’s deteriorating health isn’t the only reason Navalny’s team are under time pressure. Last week, the Russian OM brought a lawsuit in Moscow, with the aim of having its organization qualified as “extremist”. The activities of the Navalny Anti-Corruption Foundation and those of its political groups across the country would become illegal. “Anyone still associated with it risks years of imprisonment,” says correspondent Iris De Graaf.
Although the court hearing is not scheduled for April 26, authorities are already treating Navalny’s organization as a dangerous group. In recent days, at least five Navalny employees have been arrested and two regional offices of his organization have been raided. Other offices were closed as a precaution; some employees were forced to go abroad.
But even for people who are not directly affiliated with Navalny’s organization, it will be risky to take to the streets today, predicts De Graaf. “The access roads to the central squares around the Kremlin are blocked and additional police officers are present all over Moscow. Opposition channels are already sharing leaflets on Telegram telling you what to do if you are arrested or hit by a baton. the police.”
The situation surrounding the Leader of the Opposition is also closely watched internationally. The United States has already made it known that if Navalny were to die in custody, it would have “consequences” for relations with Russia. EU foreign ministers discussed possible punitive measures last Monday.
The political refugee Dmitri Belousov has little confidence in this international pressure. “In the end, I think countries will end up putting their economic interests ahead of them,” he fears. “The sanctions are therefore never very harsh”.
Moreover, he believes, it is mainly for the Russians to denounce the way the government treats Navalny. “At the end of the day, Russian problems must also be resolved in Russia.”