Russia moves to extinguish pro-Navalny ‘flashlight’ protests

When the team of imprisoned Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny urged people to come out to their residential courtyards and shine their cellphone flashlights in a display of unity, many responded with jokes and skepticism.

After two weekends of nationwide demonstrations, the new protest format looked to some like a retreat. 

But not to Russian authorities, who moved vigorously to extinguish the illuminated protests planned for Sunday. 

Officials accused Navalny’s allies of acting on NATO’s instructions. Kremlin-backed TV channels warned that flashlight rallies were part of major uprisings around the world.

State news agencies cited unnamed sources saying a terrorist group was plotting attacks during unapproved mass protests. 

The suppression attempts represent a change of tactics for the authorities who once tried to weaken Navalny’s influence by erasing him.

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