Around 250 people attend "Gathering for Navalny" in Novosibirsk
About 250 people attended a "Citizens' gathering for Navalny" on 18 July in Novosibirsk to discuss the criminal case of the opposition politician, who was sentenced to five years in prison on the same morning by a court in the city of Kirov. Participants informed the regional governor of the sentence, Sib.fm's correspondent discovered.
According to Sib.fm's correspondent, about 250 people gathered in Pervomaysky Park on 18 July at a rally in support of opposition leader Alexei Navalny, who was convicted of misappropriating timber from company "Kirovles" on the same day by the Leninsky Court in Kirov. The "Citizens' gathering for Navalny" was organized by the Novosibirsk branch of the "Solidarity" democratic movement.
Participants discussed the politician's criminal case. Some of them came in t-shirts with slogans such as "The regime will fall", "United Russia is the party of crooks and thieves. My objective opinion." and "Navalny: one for all and all for one." One of the protesters briefly unfolded a "Putin is a thief, Navalny isn't!" placard; the police did not detain him.
Activists did not notify the authorities about the gathering. As Viktor Polyakov, member of the Solidarity political council, previously told Sib.fm's correspondent, a meeting of citizens for discussion does not require approval from local officials.
Vasily Yurchenko, Governor of the Novosibirsk Region, walked past the meeting, apparently by chance. According to participants, when asked what he thought of the Navalny verdict, the governor replied, "What, he's been put in prison? I didn't know," and left.
The only police officer in uniform at the rally was Alexandr Muzalyov, deputy head of the "Central" police station. He said that he did not "see" any violations of the law and asked for the lyrics of Alexandr Gradsky's song "We didn't expect change", which was sung at the gathering, "for the record".
Viktor Polyakov declared that Navalny's sentence signifies "movement in the direction of North Korea" and that "the worst thing isn't the sentence itself, but what it means for our children and the state they will live in." He added that it would be better for the government to "arrange trials behind closed doors, like the ones against saboteurs during Stalin's repressions".
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Alexei Navalny's sentence – five years in prison – was announced on 18 July at 15:30 (Novosibirsk time). The second defendant, Pyotr Ofitserov, was given four years.