Russian opposition leader Navalny's name shifts snow in Moscow

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The name of Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny spray-painted on a snow drift in Moscow.Image source, Tatyana Grigoryeva
Image caption,
Activists spray-painted "Navalny" on several large snow drifts

Moscow residents say they have found that the only way to get the council to clear snow is to write the name of opposition leader Alexei Navalny on it.

Posts on Facebook and Twitter have received thousands of likes, after disgruntled residents took to social media, saying that they tried spray-painting "Navalny" on the city's deep snow out of frustration at the authorities' slowness in removing them.

One user said the move prompted immediate reaction and that council workers removed the graffiti "within hours".

Mr Navalny is Russia's best-known critic of President Vladimir Putin, and state media never mention him by name. President Putin famously refuses to call Mr Navalny by his name, usually referring to him as "that person" when asked about him.

Moscow has seen huge snowdrifts pile this year, and has experienced some of the heaviest snowfall in decades.

Image source, Tatyana Grigoryeva
Image caption,
Street cleaners were quick to react

Tatyana Grigoryeva - a member of a local residents' group in the city's Nagorny district - says she was inspired by journalist Mikhail Kozyrev's suggestion that residents write "Navalny" on unwanted snow if they could not get municipal workers to remove them.

She posted four pictures of Navalny's name painted on snow, and later took video of two street cleaners scraping away one of the markings from a pavement. Her video has been viewed more than 47,000 times.

In some areas of the city, the snow was not removed, but Ms Grigoryeva said council workers were witnessed merely mixing up the snow to obscure Navalny's name.

In a post on Facebook she said: "They've managed to just mix it up with their shovels. I'll have to write it again."


A post on the residents' group's Facebook page says that street cleaners took about four hours to react.

"We didn't have great hopes, but the idiocy of the district officials and utility companies did not us let down," it said.

Image caption,
Alexei Navalny recently called out protesters in support of his call to boycott the 18 March election

"Now everyone in the country and beyond knows that the surname 'Navalny' is not just a surname, but a curse that forces people to work."

Russia is currently gearing up for presidential elections on 18 March, and President Putin is standing for a fourth term.

Mr Navalny, a lawyer and political activist, is barred from the contest as a result of a fraud conviction that many consider a pretext.

He has made a name for himself by leading several major opposition protests, and he has criticised many top-level officials of corruption.

The result of this is that he has become a target of attacks from pro-Putin supporters. He nearly lost his sight in one eye after being attacked with an antiseptic green dye in Moscow last year.

The snow protests have reached his attention, and in a 12 February blogpost on his website, he said that he "laughed" and found them "really funny".

He added that his "jaw had dropped" at seeing the reports and said it was indicative of "state insanity at people's 'service'".

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