Jailed Kremlin critic Navalny's team abandon formal street protests - ally

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Alexei Navalny seen in January 2021, before his imprisonment.
Alexei Navalny seen in January 2021, before his imprisonment.
Navalny Live/YouTube

An ally of jailed Kremlin critic Alexei Navalny said on Thursday his team could no longer organise formal street protests after a Russian state crackdown, but that "spontaneous" protests would take their place.

The comments, by Lithuania-based Leonid Volkov, are the latest sign that a legal onslaught against Navalny's movement has forced it to rethink the way it does things.

Navalny, President Vladimir Putin's most prominent domestic critic, was jailed in February. His arrest the previous month sparked nationwide protests at which police arrested thousands of people after declaring the rallies illegal.

After a pause, Navalny's team staged a protest last month to demand proper medical care for Navalny while he was on hunger strike in prison. Turnout was more modest than expected.

With the movement about to be declared "extremist", Volkov said formal protests were no longer an option.

"It's hard to imagine that new protests will happen in the same format that we got used to from 2017-21: when a date was announced in advance and preparations in dozens of towns got under way," Volkov wrote on the Telegram messenger service.

"But since it's obvious that the fundamental reasons for protesting are not going away ... it's clear that the protests will not go away. It's just that if there are no organisers, they will break out spontaneously.

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