Be informed. Be challenged. Be inspired.

Navalny supporters seek to drown out Putin speech with mass protests

Moscow, Russia

President Vladimir Putin will deliver a state-of-the-nation speech to Russians on Wednesday as supporters of his fiercest critic, Alexei Navalny, plan nationwide protests over his deteriorating health in jail. 

Putin, who makes a point of never uttering Navalny’s name, has said his speech to both houses of parliament will focus on projects to boost economic growth, which has been hit by foreign sanctions, low oil prices and the coronavirus pandemic.

Russia Vladimir Putin Apr 2021

Russian President Vladimir Putin attends a session of the board of trustees of the Russian Geographical Society via a video conference call in Moscow, Russia, on 14th April. PICTURE: Sputnik/Alexei Druzhinin/Kremlin via Reuters/File photo.

But as he starts his address at noon, demonstrators in the far east port of Vladivostok are due to take to the streets in the first of a wave of rolling protests across Russia in support of the 44-year-old Navalny, gravely weakened by a three-week hunger strike.

Both sides are braced for a showdown. Previous rallies in support of Navalny have been broken up by force, with thousands of arrests, and authorities have said Wednesday’s gatherings will be illegal.

The trial of strength will be closely watched abroad, at a time of deep crisis in Russia’s relations with the West over its treatment of Navalny, a major build-up of troops on the Ukrainian border and a rash of other issues that led Washington to impose new sanctions on Moscow last week, and the Kremlin to respond in kind.

Navalny, who survived a nerve agent poisoning last year that Russia denies carrying out, was sentenced in February to two-and-a-half years for parole violations related to an embezzlement case that he says was politically motivated.

He went on hunger strike on 31st March over what he said was the refusal of prison authorities to provide him with adequate treatment for acute leg and back pain. Officials say he has received normal medical care, as would any other convict. 

Navalny’s supporters have called for what they hope will be the biggest protests in modern Russian history, saying his life is hanging by a thread and demanding he receives proper medical attention.

On the eve of the protests, monitoring group OVD-Info reported police raids at Navalny’s regional offices in the cities of Krasnodar and Kurgan, and arrests of individual activists in about a dozen cities. Navalny’s team has said protests will be held in more than 100 cities and towns.

The venue for Putin’s address, the Manege exhibition hall adjacent to the Kremlin, stands on the square Navalny’s allies have designated as the location of their rally in Moscow on Wednesday evening.



sight plus logo

Sight+ is a new benefits program we’ve launched to reward people who have supported us with annual donations of $26 or more. To find out more about Sight+ and how you can support the work of Sight, head to our Sight+ page.



We’re interested to find out more about you, our readers, as we improve and expand our coverage and so we’re asking all of our readers to take this survey (it’ll only take a couple of minutes).

To take part in the survey, simply follow this link…

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

For security, use of Google's reCAPTCHA service is required which is subject to the Google Privacy Policy and Terms of Use.