"Pain, disappointment, despair.” Norway’s Kirkenes mourns the death of Russia’s opposition leader

By admin - February 18, 2024 The Independent Barents Observer
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Alexei Navalny died in a high-security penal colony in the village of Kharp in the Yamalo-Nenets Autonomous Okrug. The news was first published by the Russian Federal Penitentiary Service (FSIN), and later confirmed by Kremlin’s spokesman, Dmitry Peskov. Navalny was kept in terrible conditions and was regularly placed in a segregation unit. There were attempts to infect him with communicable diseases, and he was not given medical assistance on time. According to FSIN’s version, Navalny died because of a detached blood clot (although this can only be established by an autopsy, which is yet to be made).

On Russian social media, the most popular comment on the event was the phrase “They killed him.” The day before, the exhibition “Faces of Russian Resistance”, dedicated to political prisoners in Russia, opened in Kirkenes as part of the Barents Spektakel festival. After the news of Navalny’s death, people flocked to his photograph. The Barents Observer asked what they thought and felt about what happened.

Anatoly Venevtsev, Oulu, Finland 

This is a huge shock. I have no words. We are standing here in front of the “Faces of Russian Resistance” exhibition and Navalny was the main face of the Russian opposition.

This is a huge victory for the Russian state, but I hope that the Russian people will not forget this. Navalny will become a martyr. What is happening in Russia now and what has been happening over the last two years is very scary. Two years ago, when Russia attacked Ukraine, I was also here at the Barents Spektakel. And here I am standing and thinking: oh no, not again…

 

Anatoly Venevtsev. Photo: Georgii Chentemirov

Anton Kalinin, Kirkenes 

We have lost again. The fact that he returned to Russia is incredible heroism; he couldn’t do it any other way. This is his path, his life.

Europe has made many mistakes. Because of them those who left could not adapt and were sometimes forced to return to Russia. But in Russia you cannot say what you think, so a person begins to adapt. We who live here can do a lot of things — conduct anti-propaganda and help the dissenters. If we do not show from all angles and platforms what is really happening, we will never overcome this system.

 

Anton Kalinin. Photo: Georgii Chentemirov

Bjørk, Kirkenes 

I think it’s terrible. The Russian government is responsible for his death. He had a very loud voice – and one that was very necessary in Russia. Russia is scary now.

 

Bjørk. Photo: Georgii Chentemirov

Natalia Krivtsova, Kirkenes 

Pain, disappointment, despair, lack of hope. I hate these scum, I hate the Russian Federation. I don’t know what to do next.

He returned to Russia for people like me, like my daughter, like many of my friends. To show that he is not afraid of this gang of swindlers, thieves and murderers. There have been many examples in history of people leading millions by sacrificing themselves; Navalny is one of those.

Natalya Krivtsova. Photo: Thomas Nilsen

Svetlana Badyina, SmåRådina, Oslo 

I am shocked and devastated by the latest news. There are many different feelings, including bad ones.

This is one of those people who are born once every hundred years. With enormous willpower, with a fantastic sense of humor – sometimes it felt like it was he who supported us from prison, and not the other way around. I partly understand why he returned to Russia; he felt responsible to the Russian people.

It is very difficult to sit still and just watch what is happening from abroad. We have a lot more opportunities to protest here. I am sure that there are many people in Russia who do not support the actions of the authorities, but they are afraid for their families and for their lives.

 

Svetlana Badyina. Photo: Thomas Nilsen

 

On the evening of February 16, a rally in memory of Alexei Navalny was held in Kirkenes. Dozens of people came to the “Faces of Russian Resistance” exhibition, many with flowers and candles. “He was killed,” Svetlana Badyina said. The mayor of the municipality, Magnus Mæland, announced a moment of silence. After this, the protesters moved to the building of the Russian Consulate General. Now the photographs of Alexei Navalny, who died in a Russian prison, are visible from the windows of the consulate.