Updated Feb 18, 2024 - World

Police detain hundreds of Navalny mourners across Russia, watchdog reports

 woman places a candle in memory of Alexey Navalny at the Wall of Grief monument on February 17, 2024 in Moscow, Russia.

Police officers watch a woman placing a candle in memory of Alexey Navalny at the Wall of Grief monument in Moscow, Russia, on Saturday. Photo: Contributor/Getty Images

Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny's death in an Arctic penal colony has moved many people across Russia to leave public tributes to the prominent Putin critic, and it's led to the arrest of hundreds of them.

The big picture: Spontaneous rallies honoring the 47-year-old have been held across Russia since news of Navalny's death broke on Friday.

  • Police have detained at least 387 people in 39 cities in a crackdown on Navalny vigils — marking the largest wave of arrests at political events since 1,300 people were detained for protesting the "partial mobilization" of reservists for the invasion of Ukraine in 2022, per the Russia-based human rights monitoring group OVD-Info.

Zoom out: Russian authorities have stepped up free speech crackdowns since Putin's forces launched a full-scale invasion of Ukraine in February 2022.

Go deeper: How Navalny became Putin's biggest political foe

Editor's note: This article has been updated with more context.

Go deeper