Dozens still laying flowers for Navalny despite risk of arrest – highlighting opposition leader’s impact

In the days since Alexei Navalny’s death, people have kept coming to lay flowers at two sites in the heart of Moscow which commemorate the victims of Soviet repression.

One is the Solovetsky Stone, right beside the FSB’s headquarters on Lubyanka Square; the other is the so-called ‘Wall of Grief’, a more recent memorial site, which is as harshly emotive as the name suggests.

Police tell them to move on, not to linger.

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After close to 400 arrests in cities across the country, people are aware they risk being detained if they outstay their welcome or do so much as unfurl a banner or photo of Navalny.

Plain clothes men in masks, presumably FSB, watch on with video cameras in hand, filming or photographing the trail of visitors.

It’s not clear what they’ll do with the material beyond store it up for use further down the line, but it makes an already tense atmosphere all the more uncomfortable.

On Sunday afternoon, as we filmed at the Solovetsky Stone, we were told we had seven minutes to film.

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We took the police at their word.

Around the Russian capital, the security presence is markedly higher than normal, with OMON riot police stationed alongside regular forces.

It is nothing on the numbers around some of the demonstrations on Navalny’s return in 2021 or at the start of the war, but for people laying carnations it is a lot.

Still, this is a security state. It is to be expected.

The fact there are so many who still come to pay their respects even on the third day after his death shows the impact Navalny had – and the loss felt by so many in Russia that he died in the name of their freedom.