MOSCOW: Several hundred women formed human chains in Moscow and Saint Petersburg on Sunday, using Valentine’s Day to express support for the wife of jailed opposition leader Alexei Navalny and political prisoners.
Around 300 women gathered on Arbat Street in Moscow’s historic city centre holding a long white ribbon in temperatures of minus 13 degrees Celsius (8 degrees Fahrenheit). The gathering came after authorities last week sentenced Navalny, President Vladimir Putin’s most prominent critic, to nearly three years in prison and unleashed a crackdown on his supporters.
Female activists said they wanted to express solidarity with Navalny’s wife Yulia and other women who have become victims of the crackdown. “By forming a chain we want to show that we are for love and against violence,” Darya Obraztsova, a 22-year-old student, said in Moscow.
“Very brave and nice young women have gathered here,” she said, adding she wanted “freedom and justice” for Russia.
In the second city Saint Petersburg, some 100 women formed a similar chain near a monument to victims of political repression.
Some clutched flowers, while others recited poems by Anna Akhmatova, one of Russia’s most beloved poets.
“Only love can win over evil,” 25-year-old Valeriya Stepanova said in Saint Petersburg.