A demonstration in support of detained Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny took place in Tallinn's Vabaduse väljak Saturday, joining many other similar events across Russia and beyond.
Protest organizer Sergei Metlev told BNS that: "Navalny embodies absolute courage and re-establishes the individual citizen before the force of the power machine. He deserves respect and support. We care that the authorities in our neighboring country are violating human lives so brutally. Free societies must come to the aid of Russian civil society."
Metlev added many n Estonia who are following what has been happening with Navalny and in Russia in general, note least because many residents have friends and relatives there and are concerned about human rights and other issues in that country.
Navalny was arrested last Sunday evening immediately after his plane from Germany touched down at Sheremetyevo Airport, Moscow.
Navalny had been recuperating in Germany since a suspected Novichok nerve agent attack last August. The opposition leader fell violently sick on a flight from Tomsk, Siberia. His family joined him in Germany, while his wife accompanied him on the flight back to Russia, which was diverted from its original destination of Vnukovo Airport, possibly because due to large numbers of supporters waiting to welcome him home.
Sergei Metlev, organizer of Saturday's Tallinn demonstration, said that Navalny had been poisoned by the Russian Federal Security Service (FSB).
Yevgeniya Chirikova, leading the protest, is a Russian emigree to Estonia and environmental activist, who is also a personal friend of Navalny's and had run for the mayoral post in Khimki, just outside Moscow.
She said: "I was enraged by the wild injustice of putting a completely innocent person in a cage. I have known him personally for years. I remember how he supported my bid for the mayoralty of Khimki. Alexei visited Khimki in person with his team, helped with agitation, and explained why the corrupt power needs to be replaced. Alexei is a wonderful person – brave, honest and very helpful, with a great sense of humor. Russia needs namely such politicians. I believe that together we will achieve the release of Alexei."
Navalny had a three-and-a-half-year suspended sentence to his name dating back to 2014, relating to alleged embezzlement – charges which he says are politically motivated – and which may be converted to real jail time following his recent arrest. He is set to be detained until mid-February as things stand, while a makeshift courtroom in a Moscow police station was set up to hear his case soon after his arrival.
The demonstration (see gallery above) in Tallinn reportedly followed coronavirus dispersal and mask-wearing requirements, and had been registered with the authorities.
Editor: Andrew Whyte