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The Quiet Storm

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Viral TikTok videos call on young Russians to stage illegal pro-Navalny protests

Written by on 22/01/2021

Momentum is building in Russia for widespread protests this weekend in support of jailed opposition leader Alexei Navalny.

Videos have been posted on TikTok, Russia’s most popular iPhone app, encouraging people to defy authorities and turn out.

Young Russians in particular have flooded the social media site using the hashtags #freenavalny and #23Jan.

One video tells demonstrators to pretend they are American tourists if questioned by the police on the march.

Navalny released a video on YouTube
Image: Alexei Navalny was detained on arrival in Moscow

Other videos show Navalny supporters packing their bags ready for demonstrations, recommending they bring milk to help counter the effects of tear gas, and some depict students removing pictures of President Vladimir Putin from classrooms and replacing them with photos of Mr Navalny.

The videos have been watched more than 50 million times, prompting the state censor to demand TikTok remove them.

Mr Navalny returned to Moscow from Berlin last weekend, where he’d spent months being treated for Novichok poisoning.

More from Alexei Navalny

Pic: No_Miting
Image: They use the hashtags #freenavalny and #23Jan. Pic: No_Miting

He was arrested on arrival in Moscow and charged with breaking his bail conditions – and is facing a potential three-and-a half-year jail term if found guilty.

His detention has been widely condemned by the international community, which believes the Russian state was behind attempts to kill him.

Demonstrations are set to take place on Saturday in more than 70 towns across Russia including Moscow, St Petersburg and Vladivostok.

Pic: Yulia Navalnaya
Image: Fellow opposition leader Yulia Navalnaya posted on Instagram to say she would attent. Pic: Yulia Navalnaya

They could be the biggest demonstrations against Mr Putin since 2018.

Anger has hardened against the president this week after the Navalny team released a documentary exposing a vast and opulent palace built by Russia’s leader on the Black Sea coast.

The programme claims the complex – 39 times larger than Monaco – cost £1bn to build and was funded through illicit money.

Moscow mayor
Image: Moscow mayor Sergey Sobyanin makes a statement about the illegal protests

It is said to have a casino, an underground ice hockey complex and a vineyard.

“It has impregnable fences, its own port, its own security, a church, its own permit system, a no-fly zone, and even its own border checkpoint,” Mr Navalny says in the video.

Forty million people had viewed the video on YouTube within 40 hours of it being published.

 Sky News

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