Memorial for Navalny in Vienna: A Sign of Resistance and Mourning Destroyed

PeopleOther ♦ Published: March 17, 2024; 23:16 ♦ (Vindobona)

An impressive testimony to the compassion and protest of the Russian community in Austria has formed in front of the Russian embassy in Vienna. In honor of the deceased Russian opposition leader Alexei Navalny, an improvised memorial was created that not only expresses grief but can also be seen as a clear statement against the Putin regime.

Opposite the Russian embassy in Vienna, there was a memorial to the Russian opposition figure Alexey Navalny similar to the one in St. Petersburg, which has now been destroyed by unknown perpetrators. / Picture: © Wikimedia Commons / Gesanonstein [Creative Commons CC0 1.0 Universal Public Domain Dedication]

The news of Navalny's death has caused consternation worldwide, but especially within the Russian diaspora. Numerous people gathered in Vienna to lay flowers, light candles and hang up photos of the deceased, as reported by ORF. The emotional sympathy was great, many younger Russians were moved to tears. In addition to the personal expressions of grief, there were also clear words of criticism of the Russian government. Posters with inscriptions such as "Putin is a murderer" and "Putin, you're getting on our fucking nerves" testify to the anger and disappointment of many people about the political situation in their home country.

However, this form of peaceful protest did not remain undisturbed, as reported by ORF. It is reported that unknown perpetrators destroyed the memorial. Witnesses reported about ten men who abruptly removed posters, flowers, and candles and took them away. The incidents occurred at a time when the memorial was little observed, raising questions about the safety and freedom of such forms of expression in the Austrian capital.

The removal of the memorial has caused horror and incomprehension in the community, as reported by ORF. One resident expressed his concern: "I find it particularly disturbing that a memorial to an obviously very esteemed person has been removed at a time when this place has been little observed." The memorial had been an important symbol of freedom and democracy, which had now fallen victim to an act of repression.

The Russian embassy in Vienna has not yet commented on these events, as reported by ORF. When asked, a spokesperson merely stated that they had no position on the matter as they had not seen the memorial. This reticence raises questions, particularly concerning the role of the embassy and its possible involvement in the destruction of the memorial.

Similar memorials to Navalny have sprung up across Europe, most of which have remained untouched. The incident in Vienna thus stands in stark contrast to other practices and highlights the tense political situation that affects not only Russia but also the international community.

The loss of the memorial in Vienna is not only a loss for the Russian community but also a loss for the city itself, which has always seen itself as a place of freedom of expression and peaceful coexistence. It is to be hoped that those responsible will be brought to justice and that such acts of destruction will not become the norm.

Russian Embassy Vienna