Several hundred people gathered in Prague’s Jan Palach Square on Saturday afternoon to protest against the detention of opposition leader Alexei Navalny in Moscow and the Putin regime. The event was organized by the Kulturus Association. In the morning, a protest action was held near the Russian embassy, in which about two hundred people took part.
Navalny, considered President Vladimir Putin’s biggest domestic opponent, was detained by police at a Moscow airport last Sunday after arriving from Germany. There he was treated for the August poisoning, which he attributed to Putin and the FSB special services. The Kremlin denies this.
“We, emigrants from Russia, Belarus, Ukraine, Kazakhstan, citizens of the Czech Republic and residents of Prague, in this situation consider it necessary to publicly express support for Navalny,” said artist Anton Lytvin. According to him, it is necessary to resist political repression and promote democracy, freedom of speech and European values.
The demonstration was held in Russian with a Czech translation. Activists and singers performed. They recalled that similar events are taking place in Russia and other European cities. “We shouldn’t forget about other political prisoners either. Write them letters so that they can see our support, ”said Olga Storozheva from the Boris Nemtsov Academic Center. She remembered Havel’s motto: “Truth and love will triumph over lies and hatred.” According to the activist, if a lot of people respond and express support, the changes will take place. Storozheva believes that many in Russia are beginning to understand that not all is well in the country.
The demonstrators carried posters in support of Navalny and the release of political prisoners and against the Putin regime. Some of them brought Russian flags. Also Belarusian flags were visible in the crowd. The action lasted until 16:00.
On Saturday morning, a protest action was held outside the Russian embassy, in which about two hundred people took part. They were mostly young people. The protesters brought banners in Russian and English with the words “We want democracy, not dictatorship” or “Enough injustice.” Russian popular music was heard. The crowd sang. Some had Russian flags.
There were metal barriers around the Russian embassy. The police kept order. The protest was peaceful.
According to statistics from the Ministry of the Interior, about 41,900 Russians live in the Czech Republic. More than half of them can stay in the country permanently.
According to the annual reports on the situation of national minorities in the Czech Republic, relations in the Russian community in the Czech Republic have deteriorated and become “politicized” in recent years, mainly due to views on events in Ukraine, Brexit and foreign policy, as well as propaganda. This was also reflected in the granting of Czech citizenship.