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New Protest Facebook Page Already in Place as Kremlin Moves Navalny Verdict Forward

Alexey Navalny in a Russian court. Image from Wikimedia Commons.

Alexey Navalny in a Russian court. Image from Wikimedia Commons.

As Russian opposition activists drew together masses of citizens for a protest on January 15 against the verdict in the trial of opposition leader Alexey Navalny, the court suddenly moved the announcement of the verdict to tomorrow, December 30. A new protest is already being organized online.

The verdict is tomorrow at 9am.

The original protest, scheduled for January 15 when the verdict was supposed to be handed to Navalny, caused much controversy when the initial protest event page was blocked by Facebook at the request of Russia's prosecutor's office without any explanation or warning to the protest organizers. A new page soon sprang up, gathering dozens of thousands of RSVPs from RuNet users. Facebook and Twitter later said they would not block any protest pages in Russia.

On Monday, a Russian court that was supposed to hand down the verdict unexpectedly changed the date from January 15 to Tuesday, December 30, 9am Moscow time. The change came as a surprize to opposition activists, and many ridiculed the court for such an obvious reaction to the growing strength of the protests. Navalny explained on his website that it was possible to bend some rules for special cases like his.

Как вы знаете, приговор по «делу Ив Роше» был назначен на 15 января. Мне несколько человек сказали «как-то это выглядит странно, могут перенести, сделать раньше и внезапнее», но мы такой вариант не рассматривали, так как он вообще в принципе невозможен.
Но, как оказывается, нет таких исключений, которых нельзя устроить хорошим людям.
5 минут назад всех нас (адвокатов, меня и Олега) уведомили, что оглашение приговора состоится завтра, 30 декабря в 9 часов утра.

As you know, the “Yves Rocher case” verdict was scheduled for January 15. A few people told me “it looked strange, they could reschedule it, make it sooner and more unexpected,” but we did not consider this option, since it was practically impossible.
But apparently there are no exceptions that can't be made for good people.
5 minutes ago all of us (the lawyers, Oleg and I) were informed that the verdict will be announced tomorrow, December 30, at 9am.

In response to the court decision, Leonid Volkov, one of the organizers of the January 15 protest and the creator of the blocked Facebook event, has created a new event page on Facebook for another unsanctioned protest, now set for the evening of tomorrow's verdict announcement.

Over 13 thousand users have already signed up to participate in tomorrow's protest. Netizens have also been sharing photos of police activity around Manezhnaya square and exchanging advice on how to prepare for the protest in case Russian authorities tried to block the Internet or other communications. Navalny himself tweeted about using the FireChat app, a mesh-network based communication tool used by protesters in Hong Kong earlier this year. How far Russian law enforcement will go to prevent or block tomorrow's protest remains to be seen.

Navalny and his brother Oleg stand accused of defrauding a French cosmetics company, but claim the charges against them are politically motivated. Prosecutors have asked the judge to lock them up for 10 years and eight years, respectively.

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