After mass demonstrations with more than 11,000 detentions, supporters of imprisoned Russian dissident Alexei Navalny have planned a new form of protest on Sunday.
All over Russia, people are being asked to stand in front of their homes for 15 minutes in the evening of Valentine’s Day and hold torches aloft to express their solidarity with Navalny.
The action under the motto “Love is stronger than fear’’ is a response to the “unprecedented wave of violence and repression’’ by security forces at past rallies, the organisers said in the call to protest.
The decentralised and particularly peaceful initiative is intended to make it difficult for the police to take action against it.
The Kremlin has already declared that it has no interest in a cat-and-mouse game but that it will prosecute violations of the law.
Russian President, Vladimir Putin sees the demonstrations as an attempt by Moscow’s opponents to exploit discontent among the population.
“They are using this statist now of all times, of all times, when in all countries of the world including ours, fatigue is arising among people, pent-up anger, discontent.
“Our opponents or potential opponents have always relied on very ambitious, power-hungry people and have always used them,’’ Putin said at a meeting with newsmen earlier
The protest is also dedicated to Navalny’s wife Yulia, who will be separated from her husband for years.
The leading opposition figure was sentenced almost a fortnight ago to serve a multi-year prison term imposed in an earlier trial, which was heavily criticised internationally.
In the eyes of the judge, he had violated parole conditions while recovering from a poison attack in Germany.