Valentine’s Day demonstrations in support of Alexei Navalny, the imprisoned head of the Russian opposition who was poisoned last year, looked more romantic Sunday as Russians used valentine cards, flowers and lights to draw attention to government corruption during the unauthorized protests.
On Sunday, Russian women in Moscow and St. Petersburg organized human chains holding flowers and handmade valentines to show solidarity with Navalny’s wife, Yulia, who herself has been detained twice during protests to free her husband, and other victims of political oppression.
Later that evening, protestors took to the streets with lights, mostly from cell phones, to stand in solidarity with Navalny and the more than 10,000 Russians detained during giant protests demanding Navalny’s freedom.
Navalny remains in prison after he was sentenced to serve out a nearly three-year sentence earlier this month when he was convicted of breaking probation terms for a 2014 fraud conviction he says was politically motivated.
During his trial, Navalny argued he couldn’t meet with his probation officer as required because he was in a coma in Germany after being poisoned by Russian security agents on the orders of Russian President Vladimir Putin, a charge the government denies.